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Glen Cove development site needs additional cleanup, EPA says

State officials have declared this site along Garvies

State officials have declared this site along Garvies Point Road in Glen Cove safe for development. The site, targeted for a large residential, recreational and commercial development, is pictured Thursday, March 24, 2016. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released a proposed plan for more environmental cleanup at the site of a $1 billion residential, commercial and recreational development in Glen Cove.

Agency officials several years ago said the 26 acres of formerly industrial waterfront land had been remediated well enough to permit development. But Lorenzo Thantu, a project manager in the EPA’s Manhattan office, said tests of soil samples showed isolated spots of contamination beyond permitted levels remained.

The EPA’s proposal for additional cleanup, which will be detailed at a June 13 public meeting in Glen Cove, comes less than a week after the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced that 21 acres of other land targeted for the development also need additional cleanup in scattered locations near Glen Cove’s waterfront.

The waterfront area had been the site of a metal-processing plant, salvage yard, oil storage tanks and other industrial uses, as well as the city dump.

Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello and Frank Haftel, director of the Garvies Point waterfront project for Uniondale-based RXR Realty, said further remediation of “hot spots” was to be expected during a complex 20-year, $120 million environmental cleanup.

Amy Marion, the attorney for 105 area residents who filed a lawsuit in November seeking to block the Garvies Point development on environmental and other grounds, said “the public attention and public scrutiny” of the project in recent months helped lead to the two agencies’ call for further remediation, as did national attention to drinking-water contamination in Flint, Michigan.

She said if the agencies missed some contamination years ago, they could do so again.

“We all trusted the authorities in Flint. . . . They said the drinking water was OK, and it wasn’t,” Marion said.

She said the new remediation plan underlines her lawsuit’s call for a new environmental impact statement for Garvies Point. Lawyers for the city say an exhaustive new study isn’t needed.

City and environmental officials said that even after Garvies Point is built, tests of the land and air will continue to ensure public safety.

Spinello said the additional cleanup illustrates that authorities will ensure the site is safe to live on and visit.

“Nobody is taking any shortcuts,” he said.

The EPA’s Thantu said further remediation would have occurred without public pressure.

“EPA and New York State DEC stayed on top of the developer, making them do additional sampling work” to determine whether previous remediation was complete and effective, he said.

The EPA estimated it will need to remove about 8,500 cubic yards of soil from scattered locations on land it has jurisdiction over — a fraction of the soil that had previously been removed, Thantu said.

The EPA plans to finish its remediation this year; the DEC expects to do so next year.

Last week, the DEC also announced final approval of decisions declaring three acres of land for Garvies Point and an adjacent ferry terminal safe for development.

The EPA public meeting is to start at 7 p.m. at Wunsch Auditorium in Robert Finley Middle School.

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