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Royal mess: State asking for comment on finishing Kings Plaza cleanup

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It’s a cleanup fit for a king.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation plans to clean up toxins deep under the ground left behind by a former plastics and oil company at the site of what’s now Kings Plaza — but is asking the public for its input until the end of the month before wrapping up the work.

Presto Plastics Products Company operated on the site near Avenue U and E. 55th Street — now a paved access road to the mall — from the 1930s to the 1960s, and Sun Oil Company did from 1961 until 1965, leaving behind oil-filled tanks about 10 feet under the dirt. And the greasy stuff had seeped out over the years, making it high time it gets scrubbed clean, said the district manager of Community Board 18.

“We welcome this overdue cleanup process,” said Dottie Turano.

Workers lifted out the physical tanks in 2008, but the toxins — petroleum and chlorinated compounds — spread beyond what was immediately excavated, and so contractors, under the supervision of the state agency, will finish cleaning up the remaining contamination, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Throughout the past year, the department identified and removed so-called hot spot regions of contamination using chemical oxidation injections, according to the state agency.

The site was originally part of the Department of Environmen­tal’s voluntary cleanup program, but since that ends in March 2018, the state transitioned all of those applications to the Brownfield Cleanup Program, which requires public review and comment, according to a department spokesman.

The surrounding water is not used for drinking, so locals don’t have to worry about having a glass out of their tap, and no chemicals have leaked into the nearby nature preserve or marina, the spokesman said.

The agency is monitoring the surrounding air, but no impacts to its quality have so-far been recorded, according to a spokesman. Head honchos expect the cleanup to wrap in the next six months, and will accept public comment until Sept. 29, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

To read more about the cleanup, enter site ID #C224263 at http://www.dec.ny.gov/cfmx/extapps/derexternal/index.cfm?pageid=3. Anyone can submit a comment to the site Project Manager Ioana Munteanu-Ramnic via email at ioana.muntanu-ramnic@dec.ny.gov or by calling (718) 482–4065. All comments must be submitted by Sept. 29, 2017.

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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