July 27, 2002
Groundwater Contamination Not Checked
The residents of Freeport were recently alerted by the media about
hazardous environmental conditions caused by fuel spills originating at
the gas station located on the corner of Merrick Road and Bayview
appears that there could be groundwater contamination, similar to or
worse than that discovered at Merrick Road. This contamination
could lie beneath the newly constructed homes on the corner of Guy
Lombardo Avenue and Ray Street. Unsold, they are located adjacent to a
long abandoned gasoline station immediately to their north. The
groundwater at this location is only about 10ft below ground surface and
flows in a southerly direction, making the new homes, and others,
directly in the path of any groundwater contamination coming from the
abandoned gas station.
Eight months ago, I
shared my concerns about the potential of contaminated groundwater being
under these newly constructed homes with Trustees of the Village. I was
assured that the matter had been properly addressed and I had nothing to
worry about. I was told an environmental investigation was conducted and
the Building Department was satisfied that there was no problem.
I had an uneasy
feeling about the testing, so on January 28, 2002, I filed a Freedom of
Information (FOIL) request with the Village Clerk, requesting “the
complete Building Department folder, including any environmental work.”
In order to eliminate any confusion in either the Clerk’s Office or the
Building Department, I supplied the block, lot and section numbers of
On January 30,
2002, in response to my FOIL request, I was advised by the Freeport
Building Department that the information I had requested referred to
“vacant land.” Construction was well under way on the building of two
homes on the parcel at that time. Interestingly, the Building Department
stated that the “Building Permit Application has not been filed.”
I called the
village and told them that it was impossible. The village, without
explanation, then produced the file.
An examination of
the file revealed a building permit, dated November 13, 2001, along with
a one-page letter, dated November 2, 2001, from TDA Corporate
Environmental Services, Inc. (TDA). This letter was addressed to the
owner of the property, Salvatore Burruano and it appears that Mr.
Burruano hired TDA to do an environmental examination of the property.
The letter claimed TDA performed a Limited Phase II Subsurface Soil
investigation. TDA included a survey of the boring sample locations. A
Phase II investigation is designed to target specific areas of
Absent from the
file was any indication of a Phase I Site Assessment, which would have
included a visual inspection and background investigation of the
property and the surrounding land use.
competent Phase I Assessment report would have identified any issues of
environmental concern, such as the adjacent abandoned gas station and
dry cleaning establishment. The Phase I would have indicated that the
ground water quality was a potential issue that required further
investigation in the Phase II. It is unclear why the groundwater was
not tested or why the Building Department did not request a test.
of the property only consisted of soil borings and field screening of
recovered soil samples. According to TDA “the soil throughout the
subject property appears to be characteristically very clean.” In their
letter to Mr. Burruano, TDA stated, “A separate report on the laboratory
results of the two soil samples will be forwarded to you as soon as they
are received.” These results were not in the building file. It is
unknown whether they were removed or not supplied.
investigation was deficient.
arbitrarily characterized the soil throughout the site as very clean.
There is no indication that groundwater samples were collected, i.e.,
via properly installed monitoring wells or other means acceptable to the
DEC or EPA. The collecting of soil samples did not address groundwater
quality. The instrumentation used to field screen the soil is capable of
detecting only some volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds. It is
incapable of detecting lead, PCBs, and other environmentally hazardous
substances, which are toxic.
The property owner,
Sal Burruano, appears not to have supplied any data to the village from
TDA or anyone else to substantiate the claim that the soil was “very
clean.” There is no indication that the Building Department ever asked
for any verification or substantiating documents.
Joe Madigan, the
then Acting Superintendent of Buildings, issued a building permit
without the proper environmental review of the land. If there was any
laboratory data on file with the village, it was removed from the file.
If the groundwater was tested, those results were also removed from the
Burruano is involved in another Freeport Building Department boondoggle.
FNYN expects to report on this story in the next two weeks. -- Ed.)