Residents, and school and water-district officials in central Nassau County are urging the state Department of Environmental Conservation to intensify its plan to clean up a former industrial site near a school and cinema.
The DEC held community meetings in March and April to present its remediation plan for the Solvent Finishers site at 601 Cantiague Rock Rd. in Jericho. Cantiague Elementary School and the UA Westbury Stadium 12 cinema are near the site. The movie theaters are above the contamination plume, which stretches 4,000 feet to the south of the site, but the school is not, DEC said.
After the first meeting in March, a consultant for Jericho Union Free School District tested air and soil on school property and found no danger to students, district Superintendent Henry Grishman said.
The DEC said it tested air in the public areas of the cinema and found no harmful vapors. But there is contamination below the cinema foundation, and a potential for unhealthy vapors to rise into the building, so remediation and more testing will occur, the agency said.
A product development and design area, warehouse, offices and small store for Rubie’s Costume Company now sit on the site. DEC and Rubie’s have repeatedly tested the air and found no hazard to employees, representatives for DEC and Rubie’s said.
Among the past occupants of the site were an industrial dry cleaner and manufacturers of artificial leather, plastics and sportswear. DEC is still determining liability for the contamination. The primary contaminants are tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene, the agency said.
The DEC is proposing a 20-year, $14.2 million cleanup effort. Since 2012, the agency has been removing harmful vapors from below ground and treating them. That would continue. The agency also proposes to use a combination of chemical injections and natural organisms to treat soil and groundwater.
But Grishman and others say a technique using heat to push vapors toward the surface for treatment would be more effective. DEC said it is reviewing those suggestions.
Linn Weissman, who lives several blocks from the plume and has two children in Cantiague School, said she was relieved by the results of air testing at the school. But, despite tests showing no danger to cinema patrons, she and her family avoid seeing movies there, because it is so close to the contamination site.
“It’s obviously a concern for everyone, especially my young children, to be anywhere near where they can breathe in that air,” Weissman said.
DEC says no drinking-water wells have been contaminated. Rich Humann, a consulting engineer for the Hicksville Water District, said the district asked the DEC for additional monitoring of wells, although, he said, “we don’t believe this site is going to impact a Hicksville well.”
The nearby Westbury Water District shut down two wells more than 30 years ago because of concerns about potential contamination, but none has been found, said district Superintendent John Ingram.