Brooklyn Boro

EPA adds Greenpoint’s Meeker Ave. plume to Superfund list

Toxic vapors seep into basements, indoor air

March 18, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, Councilmember Lincoln Restler and community leaders were slated to meet at Cooper Park Houses, 275 Jackson Ave., to celebrate the inclusion of the Meeker Avenue Plume under Greenpoint to the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List.

The underground plume now joins Newtown Creek, the Gowanus Canal and the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company site on the list.

According to the EPA itself, the plume consists of contaminated soil and groundwater containing chlorinated organic compounds that migrated from the soil into groundwater. 

The Plume, which spans several city blocks and is bounded on one side by Newtown Creek, is a result of the area’s industrial past, when industrial plants, such as dry-cleaning and metalworking businesses, dumped dangerous chemicals into the ground. 

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It was discovered, according to the Newtown Creek Alliance, in 2007 when two investigations by Exxon Mobil and the state Department of Transportation “documented that soil, soil gas and groundwater at numerous locations throughout the area had been contaminated with chlorinated solvents”

Megerian Rug Cleaners, at 93 Division St., sits above the Meeker Avenue Plume. Google Maps photo

The Plume is different than the nearby Greenpoint Oil Spill, which is also a result of industrial contamination in the area.

The Plume is dangerous, according to the EPA, is that vapors can seep into basements and the indoor air of residential and commercial buildings. 

“NYSDEC [the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation] has investigated indoor air vapor intrusion and areas underneath the Meeker Avenue site for the past 13 years. In 16 residential and three commercial structures where site contaminants exceed regulatory screening levels, NYSDEC installed vapor intrusion systems designed to pull the vapors outside where they can dissipate to reduce health risks from inhaling vapors,” the EPA said. 

In October 2021, Rep. Maloney, who represents Greenpoint and Northern Williamsburg, as well as parts of Queens and Manhattan, urged the EPA to add the Meeker Avenue Plume to the NPL. 

After the Meeker Avenue Plume was added to the Superfund list, she said, 

“Having the Meeker Avenue Plume added to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites will enable the EPA to truly address legacy pollution and make federal cleanup funding available to protect New Yorkers. The plumes at this site are the result of historic hazardous waste dumping and irresponsible manufacturing practices, creating a substantial threat to my constituents and their health. I want to thank the Biden-Harris Administration and the EPA for tackling these threats to human health and the environment.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $3.5 billion in the Superfund Remedial Program and reinstates the Superfund chemical excise taxes, making it one of the largest investments in American history to address legacy pollution. This historic investment makes a dramatic difference in EPA’s ability to tackle threats to human health and the environment. With this Superfund NPL update, the Biden-Harris Administration is following through on its commitment to update the NPL twice a year, as opposed to once per year.

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