DEC: Contaminant recovery wells won’t be intrusive

Nov9 DEC meeting cross and macneal.JPG

New York State Department of Conservation project managers Gardiner Cross and Doug MacNeal at a public meeting last Wednesday (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

With a contaminant recovery plan having been proposed for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, representatives from the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) addressed concerns of residents last week at a public meeting.

This included making assurances that wells the DEC and Con Edison plan to build in ST/PCV to collect the leftover chemicals so they can be disposed of wouldn’t be intrusive. Con Ed has been working with DEC on what’s been referred to as a “remediation” for the site, which was once home to a manufactured gas plant (MGP).

The DEC had actually directed Con Edison to begin remediation for this project back in 2011. However, DEC project manager Doug MacNeal said during the meeting that the process was delayed for the last five years because of the changes in ownership at ST/PCV.

MacNeal said that exact locations haven’t been determined for the wells yet, but Council Member Dan Garodnick, who was also at the meeting, which held at Beth Israel last Wednesday, said that he would push DEC to site them as far away as possible from doors, windows and playgrounds.

One possible location for the wells, of which there will be 10 in Peter Cooper and six in Stuy Town, would be inside the garages. Meeting attendees burst into laughter when geologist and DEC project manager Gardiner Cross said that this was because the garages already have good ventilation. However, MacNeal backed up his statement, explaining that to be up to code, a garage has to have a functional ventilation system. If it doesn’t, he added, residents should contact DEC.

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UPDATED: Con Ed recommends putting wells in ST/PCV to recover contaminants from former gas plant

Mar13 Con Ed

The gas works and storage tanks of Con Ed’s predecessor company in 1890. (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

UPDATE: Con Ed has changed the date and venue of the upcoming meeting. It will be on Wednesday, November 1 at 7 p.m. at Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Podell Auditorium in the Bernstein Building, 10 Perlman Place, one block west of First Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets, according to an email sent to neighbors from the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.

By Sabina Mollot

As most people who live in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village know, the property is the site of the former Gashouse District, named for the Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) stations and facilities run by Con Ed and its predecessor companies.

In recent years, the utility has been conducting an investigation in and around ST/PCV, looking for contaminants in the ground, groundwater and air. The investigation is being coordinated with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the State Department of Health.

According to the study’s findings from investigations in 2006 and 2008, contaminants were found, but located deep in the ground (at least five feet) with most even lower, and in groundwater beneath the site, though that water is not used for drinking. MGP residential levels tested in the air indoors were found to be typical. Outdoor air samples collected were also found to be normal for an urban area. Because of this, Con Ed said in an advisory this week that it’s unlikely people will come into contact with these contaminants, though air monitoring will continue.

Still, the company is now proposing a “remediation” (cleanup) plan for the site that involves, among other things, the placement of wells.

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Gashouse Gang honors Stuy Town with name

One of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League’s junior teams has chosen its name based on where the majority of its players are from. See story on Page 5. (Photo by Tomoe Mattiello)

One of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League’s junior teams has chosen its name based on where the majority of its players are from. (Photo by Tomoe Mattiello)

Whenever one of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League teams is asked to choose a name the usual inclination is to immediately choose Yankees or Mets before another team has a chance. This year one of the juniors teams wanted something different. With most of the players born and raised in Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town and with their little league years coming to a close, it was decided they wanted a name which would pay homage to their place of origin.

“Keith Kelly actually came up with the name,” stated Gashouse Gang Manager Tim McCann.“Keith is our resident historian and was aware of the properties’ history before these now iconic buildings were built to supply affordable housing for the returning G.I.s of World War Two.”

Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village was long known as the Gas House District as early as 1842. After the first gas tank was constructed, huge gas holding tanks soon followed and unfortunately occasionally leaked, making the area an undesirable place to live. To make matters worse, crime was high and it also just happened to be the home base of the Gashouse Gang, which committed a reported 30 holdups every night on East 20th Street alone around the turn of the century.

“I’m not quite sure if the team was aware of the notoriety of Gashouse Gang and the gang’s history but either way, the team is aptly named,” said McCann.

 

Manufactured gas plant investigation resumes in ST/PCV

The gas works and storage tanks of Con Ed’s predecessor company in 1890.     Photo courtesy of Con Ed

The gas works and storage tanks of Con Ed’s predecessor company in 1890. Photo courtesy of Con Ed

By Sabina Mollot
After a two-year break, Con Ed this week resumed an ongoing study of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for manufactured gas plant (MGP) impacts and contaminants.
The utility noted on its website earlier this week that it would be doing indoor air testing from March 10-14 in certain buildings in ST/PCV.
The work was described as a routine part of its investigation of the complex, formerly home to MGP sites at East 14th Street, East 17th Street, East 19th Street and East 21st Street.
The former 21st Street Works MGP site occupied two thirds of the space that’s now Peter Cooper Village. Impacts have also been found in Stuyvesant Cove Park.
In its online notice (at coned.com/mgp), the company provided a list of addresses where testing would be done. In Peter Cooper Village, the testing sites are at all 21 buildings. In Stuyvesant Town, the testings sites are at 16 Stuyvesant Oval, 245 Avenue C, 522 and 524 East 20th Street and 615, 625, 635 and 645 East 14th Street.
Any contaminants and impacts are all leftovers from the days when ST/PCV was known as the Gashouse District, home to gas plants and holders where coal and oil was converted into gas for heating, lighting and cooking.
Con Ed’s manufacturing and storage of gas began in the 1840s and continued for a century until the property was sold to Metropolitan Life. Byproducts of the gas conversion included tar and purifier wastes, which were materials formed during the process before the gas was given to customers.
The last time Con Ed did investigation work on the property was in February of 2012 when it also did an indoor air study. Prior to that, in 2011, the company said it was looking at ways to “remediate” or clean up Peter Cooper Village, which was more heavily impacted by MGPs than Stuyvesant Town. However, no plan was ever announced. Con Ed is working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the NYS Department of Health on the project, which began in 2006.
When asked about the ongoing work and plan for remediation, a spokesperson for Con Ed, Bob McGee, said the investigations at the four MGP sites in ST/PCV have already been completed. Though he didn’t share the results, he did say that reports have been submitted to the NYSDEC.
“Con Ed has submitted alternative analysis reports for each site that analyzes potential remedial alternatives,” said McGee in a written statement. “NYSDEC has reviewed these reports and is in the process of preparing draft Decision Documents for each site that will present NYSDEC’s proposed remedial alternative. When these Decision Documents are complete they will be issued for public comment and a public hearing will be held. After NYSDEC considers public comments they will issue a final Decision Documents presenting the remedy that Con Ed must implement.”
The purpose of the study is to determine the potential hazards of human exposure to contaminants that could happen through breathing, ingesting or touching them.
Con Ed has said that because the contaminants have been found two feet or below the surface of the ground, the public is not expected to come into contact with them.
Exposure to contaminated groundwater is also unlikely, the company has said, because residents are served by a municipal water system.