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DEC says remediation needed at possible Amazon warehouse site

Nassau IDA chairman Richard Kessel said Amazon officials

Nassau IDA chairman Richard Kessel said Amazon officials have had a preliminary discussion with the agency about the project and are aware of the contamination at the former Cerro Wire site. Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

The long-vacant Cerro Wire site in Syosset that could house an Amazon warehouse requires remediation before it can be developed, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said in a June report.

The online retailer has discussed the issue with the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, the agency’s head said this week.

“As determined by the investigation, contaminants of concern at the 39-acre site include copper, cyanide and certain semi-volatile organic compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in soil,” the DEC said in a statement. Exposure to these chemicals and compounds can cause health problems ranging from eye and throat irritation to organ damage and death, depending on the level of exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

Based on those findings, the DEC said it “has determined that cleanup is necessary” to satisfy the “stringent” requirements of the state brownfield cleanup program before the property can be developed. However, the DEC report said “the site does not pose a significant threat to public health or the environment.”

Alabama-based Cerrowire, a manufacturer of cables and copper, operated on the site from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Amazon has not confirmed its plans, and a company spokeswoman did not respond to queries Tuesday.

Nassau IDA chairman Richard Kessel said Tuesday that  the company has had a preliminary discussion with the agency about the project and is aware of the contamination at the site.

“They have indicated to us that they were working with the DEC,” Kessel said in an interview. Kessel said Amazon did not ask for tax breaks in the initial discussion about the project and that any development would have to go through an environmental review process.

“They [Amazon] haven’t said exactly what they want,” Kessel said. “We’ve indicated to them we want to see them come to that site and bring what could be hundreds of jobs to the area.”

When the DEC review began, the site had been part of a larger proposed residential and commercial project called Syosset Park that would have included developing adjacent Oyster Bay town-owned property. The property owner, Syosset Park Development LLC, a partnership between Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group and Manhasset-based Castagna Realty Co., abandoned the mixed-use project last year and the sale of the town property was canceled. Neither company responded to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for the DEC wrote in an email that Syosset Park Development is expected to submit a “Remedial Action Work Plan” to address the contamination at the site in the late summer or early fall. That plan will be subject to public review and comment and will include the anticipated use of the property, the spokeswoman said.

The DEC also reported that a study of a capped landfill on the adjacent town-owned property did not require remediation.

“Groundwater results from the study found radium levels consistent with naturally occurring concentrations observed elsewhere on Long Island,” the report said. Though water samples found chemical contamination below the landfill, “the area residents are not exposed to nor using landfill water for drinking, bathing or laundry,” the report said.

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