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Once-toxic site to become healthcare facility

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Turn that brown upside down.

A formerly toxic site in Brighton Beach is being converted from a sickening ecological nightmare into a place to help people get well.

The new owners of the former dry cleaning business on Coney Island Avenue recently concluded a exhaustive clean-up thanks to funding allotted through the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program, and plan to open a five-story medical-imaging facility on the lot.

“Nobody should have to live or work in close proximity to toxic soil and groundwater,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D–Brighton Beach), who got the property enrolled in the program. “There was also no point to having a property be permanently vacant, and remain a neighborhood eyesore, when it could be used instead for the benefit of the community.”

The property between Ocean View and Brighton Beach avenues was a mess of contaminated soil and groundwater rife with volatile toxins as a result of the former dry cleaning business, which operated for more than 50 years at the site, according to a spokeswoman for Cymbrowitz.

Coney Island Avenue Realty, which purchased the property and handled the two-year, state-subsidized remediation effort, was initially hesitant to invest in the site. Aside from the necessary cleanup, the property was nearby to another health facility developed by the company that was completely destroyed during Sandy.

“It was a very big decision,” said Oleg Blinshteyin, vice-president of the company. “We had a business on the same block and we lost it to Sandy, another radiological center. It was a total loss for us.”

As part of the cleanup, contractors dug out and hauled away contaminated soil from the site down to 10 feet below the sidewalk, treated groundwater with oxidants to remove toxins, and covered the lot with concrete slabs, according to a report published by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Contractors also used a system by which underground chemicals are converted into vapor, and then treated before being released into the atmosphere, according to the report.

As the state prepares its final engineering report signing off on the completed cleanup, workers are already building the medical facility, which will be called 21st Century Radiology. It will offer magnetic resonance imaging, computerized axial tomography, mammograms, and sonogram scans, among other services, according to Blinshteyin.

Through the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program, the developers are entitled to tax credits offsetting a portion of the cleanup costs, and will enjoy reduced liability for any contamination later discovered at or coming from the site, according the state report.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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