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Roosevelt residents worried over brownfield site

Roosevelt residents Jacob Dixon and Sharisse Carter stand

Roosevelt residents Jacob Dixon and Sharisse Carter stand in front of a brownfield site. (Nov. 8, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Some Roosevelt residents, churchgoers and community advocates are concerned that a hazardous chemical found in the hamlet could have environmental and health repercussions.

The brownfield site, at 20 W. Centennial Ave., was used by various uniform and linen supply companies and was listed on the state Department of Environmental Conservation's registry of inactive hazardous waste sites in July 2005.

"We don't want people to have to live with this if there is a chance that they are getting sick," said Sharisse Carter, project coordinator of environmental justice for Choice For All, a local nonprofit group that hosted a community meeting about the site last month. "Those things that we can't see -- what is in our water, what is in the air -- are important."

Tetrachloroethene (PERC), a colorless liquid chemical used to dry-clean clothes, has been detected in the soil beneath the building and in the groundwater. The chemical PERC may affect the central nervous system, the liver, kidneys, blood, immune system and the reproductive system, if it is found in the air, water and food, according to the state Department of Health.

Authorities suspect an off-site groundwater plume has passed beneath residential properties to the south of the site, but DEC officials have said they do not believe it will impact drinking water, which is piped in.

"Since the public will not come into contact with or ingest the contaminated soil beneath the building, we do not expect exposure to these contaminants," DEC spokeswoman Lisa King said in an email.

But residents still worry.

"The chemicals are already in the ground, and it is probably in the air," longtime Roosevelt resident Barbara Carlisle said. "That is a concern because this is a residential community, and it's just dangerous."

The property owner, 20 W. Centennial Corp., hired Huntington Station-based Laurel Environmental Associates Ltd., which began testing and remediation. The highest air-level concentration of the chemical was found in the adjoining Parish Hall basement of St. Paul's Episcopal Church at more than four times the health department's recommended maximum, Laurel president Scott Yanuck said.

Lynda Rose, 62, of Roosevelt, a parishioner of the church for 20 years, said she is concerned that she and other people were exposed to the chemical. Rose, who is in remission from a cancer diagnosis in 2010, said three other parishioners have breast cancer and a fourth has brain cancer.

"It's a possibility it was caused by the contamination from that site," said Rose, who acknowledged there is no proven correlation. "I hope they clean up the contamination."

Under the remediation plan begun in June, contaminated soils from three on-site dry wells and soil and groundwater samples were extracted. A soil vapor extraction system could be installed in January to remove contamination from the soil, Yanuck said. The remaining work of the cleanup, expected to cost tens of thousands of dollars, will identify remediation alternatives for the site, which would require public comment.

"It's a significant investment by the current owner because of the previous operation of a prior owner," said Nassau County Legis. Dave Denenberg, an environmental attorney representing the owner.



Contaminated Property


Location: 20 W. Centennial Ave., Roosevelt

Property owner: 20 W. Centennial Corp. of Roosevelt

Former usage: Uniform and linen supply site

Year built: 1956

Building area: 15,636 square feet

Acres: 0.60

Zone Type: Storage, warehouse and distribution facilities

Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Nassau County public records

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