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Toxic timebomb? Neighbors want halt on Broadway tower until site is cleaned

The Brooklyn Paper
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A group of Williamsburg residents are incensed that work on a new 15-story housing tower on the corner of Broadway and Kent Avenue will begin construction even though a six-year-old toxic spill underneath the site has not been fully cleaned up.

“There are dozens of stalled projects in Williamsburg, more than in any part of the city, so what’s the urgency of putting this building up?” asked Williamsburg resident Bill Storandt. “Why can’t they just clean up the site as the law requires?”

The project, financed by L+M Development Partners and Goldman Sachs, would consist of 160 units, 80 percent of which will be priced at below-market rates, revitalizing a stalled site where plans to construct a $70-million luxury hotel fizzled in 2007.

But the site contains a toxic oil spill and other contaminants — its legacy as a former gas station a decade ago — and state officials confirmed that it currently does not meet environmental standards.

“The [state] determined that more sampling was needed in the site excavation areas to determine whether or not additional contamination remains that needs to be addressed,” said Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Maureen Wren. “The soil sample data indicated elevated levels of contamination, so more remediation is needed, including the excavation of contaminated soil.”

The site’s former owner removed 13 diesel tanks in early 2007, but the state’s case on the site remains open.

“There were some environmental hazards at the site and they haven’t been resolved,” said Angel Mendoza, who lives across the street from the building. “We can see the site from the top of our roof and we know for a fact that rusty diesel tanks were pulled out from the site, leaving huge holes.”

A spokesman for the owner acknowledged the existing oil spill reported to the state and that the owner plans to address the spill “in connection with current construction activities” and in accordance with the state’s requirements.

But Wren said that the developer has not submitted a required work plan detailing its clean-up efforts — which must be sent in before construction begins on the site.

And neighbors remain nervous that the developer’s plan to include a supermarket on the ground floor of the building will put food products close to the pollution.

“They’re going to put a food in the first floor where there was contamination and probably store food in the basement?” said Mendoza. “That’s a concern for us.”

Updated 5:21 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Moshe Aron Kestenbaum from Williamsburg ODA says:
This is all a smoke screen. The real issue is they don't want chassidim in that building and a kosher food store. Hey I got news for you the chassidim have lived in williamsburg long before even your parents where born MR YUPPY.
Nov. 28, 2010, 7:07 pm
joe from Williamsburg says:
yeah that's the reason, that old man (or "yuppy" as you call him) really can't stand the thought of a kosher food store getting built... it's not the fact we're all living on a toxic spill site he's concerned about at all...FOOL
Nov. 29, 2010, 8:58 am
Jen from Greenpoint says:
I love this site! Thank you Joe. My sentiments exactly - I imagine this has absolutely nothing to do with not wanting a kosher super market (isn't there a big grocery store like a block away anyhow?) and more to do with neighbors concerned that developers will weasel out of doing whats what and what they're supposed to do.
Mr Kestenbaum- this concerns you too. Do you really want to buy food housed on a toxic site? What about your children and children's children? Geez dude.
Nov. 29, 2010, 5:10 pm
Chris from Williamsburg says:
The same thing happened in the developments up the street on the corner of Broadway and Wythe. There used to be truck depots there with decades of oil spills and a known need for cleanup by the state. Slowly but surely the work was done through stop work orders and failed environmental inspections. Once the builds were completed and they could not get a C/O due to the fumes they sat dormant for a couple years. Then slowly but surely they started to move people in anyway. The sad thing is that most of the apartments are occupied by families with kids; all of whom are now being exposed to toxic fumes day in and day out, year in and year out.

One of the buildings has an underground garaged that is sealed because the fumes are so bad. The 11 Broadway plan also calls for an underground garage. It will suffer the same fate if they do not clean up the site.
Nov. 29, 2010, 5:55 pm
Moshe Aron Kestenbaum from Williamsburg ODA says:
TO jOE AND JEN

The developer has said already that they will dig down ' Till there's no place left to dig, they are ready to dig down to the earth's ass. What more do you want them to do?
Nov. 29, 2010, 6 pm
SE from Williamsburg says:
Moshe, what we would want them to do is make sure the clean up is completed. What is the problem with that? We are so quick to build in this area but the fact is that there was a lot of industrial waste in this hood before us Yuppies came in and drove prices up enough to make many of the locals who were wise enough to hold on to their property a LOT of money. Now that we are here, we would like to make sure that the neighborhood is developed in a safe way. I plan on digging my roots here and I'm not to happy that the view from my apartment is a toxic waste site.

So to the developers of this lot, spring for the cleanup, or you don't get your little market and below market housing. Now excuse me as I write my representative.
Nov. 30, 2010, 10:26 am
pete from windsor terrace says:


SE is totally right... The Developer should just
do the job right in the first place !



Dec. 4, 2010, 10:51 am
Chris from Williamsburg says:
It is about digging in a safe way. When they demolished the Shafer Brewery they just dug in and dropped a load of asbestos laden dust on the neighborhood.

When this lot was cleared two laborers showed up one day and took the asbestos roof off. No permit or even safety gear. They have already started to do things without permits. They have taken up a lane of the road and blocked the sidewalk on both Kent and S 6th with no permit to do so. I have no faith that they will do the right thing if left to their own devices.
Dec. 8, 2010, 4:05 pm
Nick from Williamsburg says:
Chris and any others, is there no way to get the sidewalk (and parking lane) blockages removed?

I see tonight that materials have been left on Dunham Place, presumably in preparation to claim this street as well. I understand from a that if such an action is reported as it happens, it can be stopped by calling 311
Dec. 8, 2010, 7 pm
John from Williamsburg says:
Just a thought...my understanding is the development is gov't funded. If this is true, then the idea that Chassidim will fill the apartments and a Kosher grocery will occupy the ground level is really not guaranteed. Don't gov't funded buildings use a lottery of some kind? Equal opportunity?
I think this argument is not about the Chassidic community, but about the removal of toxic waste and following the letter of the law. If the waste is not removed in the proper fashion, not only will the new residents of the structure suffer, but the surrounding residents may be exposed to air born toxins during the development process.
Dec. 9, 2010, 12:23 pm
Bill from Williamsburg says:
I am heartened to see stirrings of growing concern in these postings. I truly believe that if all the people in the vicinity join in keeping an eye on things, then we can force the developers to adhere to the law, not only regarding the unresolved spill cleanup, but all other aspects of running a law-abiding construction site as well. There is information on the wall surrounding the site telling you how to anonymously report unsafe conditions. Rise up, people of Dunham Place!
Dec. 9, 2010, 1:11 pm
eric from Williamsburg says:
Dear Mr. Kestenbaum, please do not take this personally, as it appears that you have. Please note sir, that chassidim children, as well as the children of non-chassidim families will move into this building for the affordability factor, and perhaps dismiss the concern the toxic nature of the site. It is therefore, our responsibility collectively(chassidim or not), to look out for the current and future residents of this community... It is an obligation, not a smoke screen as you've stated.
Indeed the chassidim have been here for a while- their cool people me.. otherwise we'd all live elsewhere... So whaddaya Mr. Kestenbaum??? let's be a community together.
Feb. 18, 2011, 4:06 pm
Mark from Williamsburg says:
I want to know how they got permit to build more then 6 story building where every building in Williamsburg is not more then 6 story, who got paid off or which city officials overlooked this, beside that the traffic has shifted as a one way, which is a joke by itself, someone needs to get hurt before DOT with some city council approved such traffic direction.
March 29, 2011, 11:03 am
SE from Williamsburg says:
I've tried to call Rep. Velasquez's office on a number of occassions to get a status update on the environmental issues on this site. She's never there and they refer me to the community liaison Evelyn Cruz. Her contact information is 718-599-3658 and you can email her at evelyn.cruz@mail.house.gov. So far, no luck.

Does anyone know if/how we can check the status of the cleanup? I live across the street from this site and would like to know what's up.
March 30, 2011, 12:32 pm
SA from Fort Greene says:
Any updates on this issue? Considering renting a unit in this building. Would appreciate any current feedback. Thank you.
Feb. 2, 2013, 3:47 pm
E from Williamsburg says:
Wonderful, I just rented a unit at 15 Dunham, and now I find out about this.

Are there any updates? Does anyone have any info on how to find out whether the clean up was properly done or who I can contact for further info?

Any help would be massively appreciated. I just signed a lease for this building and now I find THIS out! Unfreakinbelievable.
May 20, 2013, 7:31 pm
wall-e from Williamsburg says:
hi everyone... i'm looking into the clean-up documents and will report on what I find
Aug. 10, 2013, 10:30 pm
Henry from Williamsburg says:
This is from DEC spill incidents database:

24. 0703703 06/29/2007 4G'S TRUCK RENTING CO INC KINGS BROOKLYN 389 KENT AVENUE

Spill Incidents Database Search Details
Spill Record
Administrative Information
DEC Region: 2
Spill Number: 0703703
Spill Date/Time
Spill Date: 06/29/2007 Spill Time: 05:36:00 PM
Call Received Date: 06/29/2007 Call Received Time: 05:36:00 PM
Location
Spill Name: 4G'S TRUCK RENTING CO INC
Address: 389 KENT AVENUE
City: BROOKLYN County: KINGS
Spill Description
Material Spilled Amount Spilled Resource Affected
Diesel UNKNOWN Soil
Cause: Unknown
Source: Unknown
Waterbody:
Record Close
Date Spill Closed: 07/03/2007

"Date Spill Closed" means the date the spill case was closed by the case manager in the Department of Environmental Conservation (the Department). The spill case was closed because either; a) the records and data submitted indicate that the necessary cleanup and removal actions have been completed and no further remedial activities are necessary, or b) the case was closed for administrative reasons (e.g., multiple reports of a single spill consolidated into a single spill number). The Department however reserves the right to require additional remedial work in relation to the spill, if in the future it determines that further action is necessary.
Dec. 4, 2013, 11:49 am
Henry from Williamsburg says:
http://www.dec.ny.gov/cfmx/extapps/derexternal/index.cfm?pageid=2
Dec. 4, 2013, 11:51 am
Henry from Williamsburg says:
another closed spill record:

Spill Incidents Database Search Details
Spill Record
Administrative Information
DEC Region: 2
Spill Number: 0508266
Spill Date/Time
Spill Date: 10/11/2005 Spill Time: 11:19:00 AM
Call Received Date: 10/11/2005 Call Received Time: 11:19:00 AM
Location
Spill Name: FORMER GAS & WAREHOUSE
Address: 11-23 BROADWAY/375-393 1O
City: BROOKLYN County: KINGS
Spill Description
Material Spilled Amount Spilled Resource Affected
Gasoline UNKNOWN Groundwater
Cause: Other
Source: Institutional, Educational, Gov., Other
Waterbody:
Record Close
Date Spill Closed: 04/27/2012

"Date Spill Closed" means the date the spill case was closed by the case manager in the Department of Environmental Conservation (the Department). The spill case was closed because either; a) the records and data submitted indicate that the necessary cleanup and removal actions have been completed and no further remedial activities are necessary, or b) the case was closed for administrative reasons (e.g., multiple reports of a single spill consolidated into a single spill number). The Department however reserves the right to require additional remedial work in relation to the spill, if in the future it determines that further action is necessary.
Dec. 5, 2013, 3:49 pm

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