Tag Archives: Department of Environment Conservation

$50M Spring Creek flood mitigation project funded, design stage set to begin


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Superstorm Sandy may have shown the vulnerability of southern Queens to coastal flooding but FEMA and New York state have now set aside $50 million to alleviate future flooding.

The Spring Creek Hazard Mitigation Project, headed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and National Parks Service (NPS) is focused on Spring Creek, which serves as a barrier between Howard Beach and Jamaica Bay, south of the Belt Parkway.

While the grant money has already been awarded, there are no specific construction plans yet. Once the project is designed, it will take about 18 months to finish.

“Jamaica Bay was highly impacted by Sandy,” said Joanna Fields, a representative from the DEC. “Our goals are storm protection and creating an ecologically resilient system.”

Design work is expected to start in August of 2015.  This portion is estimated to cost around $3.3 million.

Phase two of the project is projected to start in December of 2015 and end in August 2017. This portion will be the actual construction of the design and will cost about $47 million.

At this point, the DEC and NPS have not finalized the plans for Spring Creek. They are currently collecting data and looking at additional planning considerations to figure out the optimal usage for the site.

Fields stressed that the money allotted to them from FEMA was for flood mitigation but said the usage of Spring Creek as a publicly accessible space is possible.

“The National Parks Service is all about public access and our goal is to work with the community on it,” said Joshua Laird, commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor. “If maintained and done right, this could be a great thing.”

There are also no plans laid out for how exactly the land would be accessible and Fields said they would not go ahead with designing it for the public until they came back to the community to talk about it.

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Toxic chemicals worry Ozone Park residents


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

The cleanup of polluted soil in Ozone Park has some residents worried toxic chemicals have spread throughout the neighborhood.

End Zone Industries will begin a long-awaited project to remove just a few inches of tainted soil from under eight storage bays under the abandoned Rockaway Beach LIRR line. The bays are between 101st and 103rd Avenues, from north to south, and 99th to 100th Streets, east to west.

Company representatives briefed Community Board 9 about the project at its April 9 meeting – with some board members upset about the project.

David Austin, project manager for AECOM, a consulting firm for End Zone, said major construction will take about three to four months. The “dirty dirt,” Austin said, would be securely removed from the garage bays in bags and transferred to a landfill on sealed trucks. There will also be air monitors running about 12 hours a day, should any contaminants make it into the air.

But board member Etienne David Adorno said he was worried that the monitors would only alert officials, not do anything to prevent or clean up.

“So if there’s a contaminant released into the air, then all it tells us is ‘Hey, a contaminant was just released into the air,’” he said. “So it doesn’t really do us any good once it’s in the air.”

A system of pipes would also be installed to take spoiled air out of the soil, through a filtration system and back into the ground, Austin said.

But concerns over a spread chemical, Trichloroethylene (TCE), business disruption and other concerns had board members skeptical about the project. TCE is an organic chemical that’s been used in cleaning solvents, paint thinner and pepper spray, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Dr. Vincent Evangelista, whose podiatry office is nearby the cleanup, expressed concern over the TCE-tainted brown water about 30 feet under the surface. Evangelista asked Austin and End Zone representatives if the contaminated soil, deemed by End Zone to be non-hazardous, immediately stopped outside of the allotted bays.

Austin acknowledged the soil could have spread to other parts of the neighborhood, but most of it has not been tested.
“There’s always unknowns when you dig underground and into dirt,” he said.

Testers only examined the soil under the eight bays, as required by the state’s Department of Environment Conservation (DEC).

It’s a matter the board would have to take up with the DEC to get the rest of the neighborhood tested, Austin said.

 

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