The owners of a toxin-contaminated site in Great Neck -- where the government expects to spend $12.4 million on cleanup costs -- have settled a civil suit with the Justice Department, authorities said Thursday.
The settlement requires long-term site leaseholder John P. Maffei and the estate of site owner Lillian Wiesner to pay the government $756,000 in cash as a result of the pollution, according to the office of Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Wiesner's estate also agreed to sell the property and pay the government an additional estimated $2 million from the sale, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.
The site at 110 Cutter Mill Rd. was used for many years by a dry cleaner and was contaminated with the dry-cleaning solvent perchloroethylene, the papers said. The EPA removed thousands of pounds of perchloroethylene-tainted soil from underneath the quarter-acre site and treated millions of gallons of contaminated groundwater, the agency said.
The land was added to the EPA Superfund's cleanup sites in 1999 when toxic fumes were found venting from the ground into a nearby indoor tennis court and synagogue, according to court papers.
Authorities hailed the settlement as a victory following a seven-year legal battle over the suit.
"Chemicals like PCE can cause serious health effects and EPA took action to reduce the risks posed by chemicals at this site, including treating of over 270 million gallons of contaminated ground water, installing systems to take vapors out of the soil that can get into buildings and installing a system in a building where vapors were getting in," EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said in a written statement. "With this settlement, the parties responsible for the pollution are being held accountable for their part in the contamination."
Attorneys for the defendants could not be reached for comment.