Nolan Urges Improved Public Outreach for Toxic Sites in Queens

January 29, 2008

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Queens) wants the process used to inform the public about toxic waste sites streamlined.

During the past year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued numerous fact sheets regarding investigation and clean-up of toxic sites in Queens. “But ask people if they have actually seen the fact sheets and the answer is most likely no,” said Assemblywoman Nolan, who represents Long Island City.

“What is being done to remove toxic waste, how long it will take to accomplish and what progress has been made thus far is information provided on DEC fact sheets but these fact sheets need to be more widely disseminated. I want to create a comprehensive list of all sites in Queens where a problem or potential problem exists,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.

The latest fact sheet summarized potential soil vapors entering buildings surrounding the former ACCO Brands, Inc. site located at 32-00 Skillman Avenue. According to the report, the staple factory covers one city block and is surrounded by a rail yard, a multi-family home and other commercial, industrial and retail properties. The site was formerly occupied by several automotive service centers and gas stations prior to the construction of ACCO in 1950-52. Soil and groundwater under the building were found to be contaminated by a cleaning solvent called trichloroethylene (TCE). The Department of Environmental Conservation Fact Sheet states that the impact to the environment is expansive affecting not only the footprint of the building but also area groundwater and soil. Remediation efforts were initiated in 2004 but the process is ongoing.

“The bottom line is if I were living in or near a building where toxic waste was found I would want to know immediately what the consequences were for my family, and what the state planned to do to protect me. It is imperative that we go beyond fact sheets and really publicize this information in a responsible manner. I congratulate the Department of Environmental Conservation for their outreach efforts and I will continue to work with them in the interest of public health and safety,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.