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Now they tell us!: Notice of Trump Village cleanup meeting came too late, locals say

Sponge-worthy: National Grid and the state will present a plan to clean the toxic dirt under Trump Village Shopping Center on Oct. 6.
Brooklyn Daily
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It’s going to be a yuuuge undertaking.

Utility company National Grid will dig up enough toxic dirt to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools in order to clean the land below the Trump Village Shopping Center, where developers are erecting a 40-story residential tower. National Grid and state regulators will hold a public meeting on the plan on Oct. 6, but that is not enough time to get the word out to neighbors, according to a manager at nearby Trump Village who believes that officials are trying to speed through the remediation without proper review.

“Zero people know abut it,” said Chris McCreight. “They did not publicize it very widely, so people don’t know. I believe part of the reason that it was last-minute is because they don’t want a lot of people there.”

The state sent McCreight’s office a notice about the meeting on Oct. 3, but it was closed for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, leaving him three days to warn residents about the hearing, he said.

Reps from National Grid said they gave people plenty of heads-up by handing out fliers, sending an e-mail notice to people on its contact list, and posting the hearing date and remediation plan on a website dedicated to the clean-up.

“We make every effort to provide the community with information in a timely manner to allow ample time to review the remediation plan and provide comments,” said utility spokeswoman Karen Young.

The Dangman Park Manufactured Gas Plant operated on the site at Neptune Avenue and W. Fifth Street from the 1880s to 1918, leaving coal tar, petroleum, and other poisonous materials trapped in the dirt. Developer Cammeby’s International plans on knocking down the shopping center to build the tower, but the state said builders cannot break ground until the land is cleaned, because construction could expose neighbors and workers to toxic materials. Dangman eventually became National Grid, so the utility is responsible for any cleanup.

The utility company will focus on three spots within the development site — two below the shopping center itself and a third underneath the building’s back alley. Workers will dig between 15 and 21 feet under the ground to haul up dirty earth. All the work will happen under a protective tarp with a ventilation system to prevent toxic vapors and odors from escaping into the surrounding neighborhood, and workers will truck all contaminated soil off site for disposal, the plan states.

Cleaners will also treat the less contaminated areas with gypsum, a mineral that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria that will eat up underground poison.

Locals fearing for their health raised a stink when Cammeby’s contractors worked past their curfew digging up portions of the back alley last spring, but reps from the developer and the state said the work did not go deep enough to stir up dangerous dirt.

Cammeby’s wanted to simply build over the land, but the state said that would not do.

The Department of Environmental Conservation and National Grid will take public comments and revise the plan as needed before approving it in collaboration with the State Department of Health.

Interim Remedial Measure Public Meeting at Temple Beth Abraham [301 Sea Breeze Ave. between W. Third and W. Fifth streets in Brighton Beach]. Oct. 6 at 6:30 pm.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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