Freeport Village News
July 2002

July 27, 2002

Groundwater Contamination Not Checked

By Bob Cardinale, Jr.

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 Avenue.

 Now, it 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. 

The abandoned gas station is right on the property line. The overgrown weeds are characteristic of the way the Glackenites turn a blind eye to the village's main roads

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 the parcel.

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 environmental concern.

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. A 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.

TDA’s investigation 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.

TDA’s environmental investigation was deficient.

TDA’s letter 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 file.

 (Mr. Burruano is involved in another Freeport Building Department boondoggle. FNYN expects to report on this story in the next two weeks. -- Ed.)



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