State Senator Frank Padavan has announced that an extensive environmental cleanup by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in and around Throgs Neck Bridge Park should be completed before the start of the youth baseball season on Thursday, April 15.
Last fall, nearby residents who use the parkland under the bridge complained of toxic contamination as a result of work being done on the bridge. After receiving complaints, Padavan wrote a letter to the MTA on December 15.
According to Padavan, the MTA responded that concerns were unfounded.
But in late February, Padavan, along with City Councilmember Dan Halloran, held a public meeting in Bayside to discuss the issue.
At the meeting, College Point resident James Cervino, a PhD. adjunct at Columbia University and environmental toxin researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, delivered a report on his study of the area.
He found lead and Tributyl tin (TBT) – a biocide and fungicide used in paints that was banned as a pesticide in the United States in 1989, noting that the levels “Seem to be exceeding the values . . . for the protection of ecological resources, and unrestricted use.” Cervino noted that the levels were within the limits for soil under a residence, but dangerous for wetlands and playgrounds.
Padavan notified the MTA of the findings in a strongly-worded letter dated March 1, which read in part, “Although this situation should never have been permitted to happen it is now your responsibility to act expeditiously to restore this area to its prior condition.”
MTA spokesperson Joyce Mulvaney pointed out that normally, “The freeze-thaw cycle can create chips when steel expands and contracts.”
“While there is no health hazard in the park, at the senator’s request we have accelerated our standard spring paint chip pick-up program,” Mulvaney said, adding “Our on-call contractor will of course remain available as needed as we resume the painting work later in April.” She noted that when the project is done “The Queens side of the bridge will be considered lead-free.”
“The MTA has listened to our concerns and they are taking the steps needed to provide peace of mind,” Padavan said, promising to keep an eye on the project, “and work with the community to address any future concerns that may arise.”