Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced today that the City of New York has agreed to remediate radioactive materials on New York City-owned property located near the former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company facility, and to pay the United States $1.6 million for costs incurred by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under a proposed Consent Judgment filed with the Court today, the City of New York will fund and perform remedial work on City property.
“This action protects New York City residents and communities from exposure to hazardous substances including radioactive waste at the Wolff-Alport Site,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “This settlement demonstrates that this Office and our Environmental Justice Team are committed to addressing environmental concerns, including the removal of hazardous substances from communities that have been disproportionally burdened by environmental health hazards.”
"EPA has collaborated extensively with local, state and federal partners to address risks posed by this Superfund site since our first actions in 2012. This agreement tackles the continued cleanup of radioactive pollution on the City-owned portion of the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company Superfund site and pays back EPA $1.6 million for its vital work to safeguard public health," said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. "Today's settlement takes us one step closer to completing our cleanup of this site so that one day it will be restored land that is ready for reuse and economic activity."
The Wolff-Alport Company operated at the facility on the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company Superfund Site (Wolff-Alport Site) from the 1920s until 1954. The Wolff-Alport Chemical Company Superfund Site (Wolff-Alport Site) is located in Ridgewood, Queens, which borders Bushwick, Brooklyn. The company’s operations included importing monazite sand that was processed to extract rare earth elements. Residues from the processing of the monazite sands contained radioactive materials, including thorium and uranium, along with their decay products, such as radium. These materials contain radionuclides, which are hazardous substances.
The company disposed of these hazardous wastes in the New York City sewer system or buried them on the former facility. Exposure to these radionuclides and their decay products either internally or externally can cause damage to deoxyribonucleic acid and body tissues, and can cause an increase in the risk of cancer over a lifetime.
After conducting extensive assessments of the Wolff-Alport Site, EPA added it to the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2014 and issued a Record of Decision in 2017, which sets forth the site remediation plan. Further information concerning the Wolff-Alport Site and the ongoing remediation can be found here.
The United States lodged a proposed Consent Judgment, which sets forth the terms of the settlement with the City of New York pursuant to the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as the Superfund statute. The agreement provides for the City to perform the cleanup of contamination at City owned property to protect human health and the environment, reimbursement to EPA of $1.6 million of its relevant past response costs, and for the City of New York to make periodic payments for future EPA oversight costs related to the cleanup of property owned by the City of New York. The Consent Judgment also includes a Statement of Work which sets forth the parameters of the City’s remedial work commitments.
The proposed Consent Judgment will remain lodged with the District Court for a period of at least 30 days, and notice of the Consent Judgment will be published in the Federal Register. This will afford members of the public the opportunity to submit comments on the Consent Judgment to the Department of Justice prior to it seeking court approval of the settlement.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York vigorously enforces the nation’s environmental laws to address environmental, health, and climate impacts on individuals and communities within the district. Any member of the public who wishes to notify the United States of environmental justice concerns may contact the Office’s Environmental Justice Team here.
The case was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Ekta Dharia and Matthew Silverman from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, EPA Office of Regional Counsel Team Leader James Doyle, Assistant Regional Counsel Jean Regna, EPA New York Remediation Branch Section Chief Joel Singerman and Remedial Project Manager Thomas Mongelli.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 23-CV-476