Cleanup of contaminated garages under an abandoned rail line in Ozone Park is near completion

Ozone Park remediation site
Photos by Anthony Giudice/QNS

A nearly four-year cleanup project inside of several NYC-owned storage bays located underneath an abandoned rail line in Ozone Park is finally nearing its completion.

Endzone Inc., the company responsible for conducting the cleanup, entered into a consent order with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in 2003 after taking over the site from the previous manufacturer Ozone Industries Inc., which stored drums and other industrial equipment that supplied its manufacturing plant from 1948 through 1996.

The cleanup focuses on bays underneath the defunct Rockaway Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road between 99th and 100th streets and 101st and 103rd avenues. Trains haven’t run on the line in 50 years, and there’s an active effort underway to transform the line into a new linear park called the QueensWay.

According to Endzone Inc., the previous owner reportedly stored solvents in several of the bays used in conjunction with the development of aircraft parts, which led to contamination of the soil.

When the bays were unused, people would break into them and use them as their own personal bays.

“Things that weren’t supposed to be going on here, were going on,” said David G. Austin, senior project manager at AECOM. “It was a real danger. There were furniture shops, wood shops, even a motorcycle bar. They were only supposed to be used for storage. Security is still a problem. We check the system bi-weekly, and we check the bays weekly.”

Under orders from DEC, Endzone Inc. created a Remedial Design and Remedial Action Plan that included removing of the floors in bays eight through 15 and the excavation of 4 feet of contaminated soil in each of the bays.

According to Austin, about 80 to 90 percent of the contaminants were within the top 4 feet of soil in the bays.

Once the contaminated soil was removed, tested and properly disposed of, new soil that met DEC criteria was put in. AECOM then constructed Soil Vapor Extraction (SVE) wells and a piping system that would draw soil vapor from deeper soil to further clean the location, along with a venting system for added preventive measures beneath the bays.

“This system is one of the best we’ve installed,” said Raimundo J. Matos, project manager at AECOM. “It is really a high-end system. It’s our crowning achievement.”

These systems pull air from the soil and puts it through a filtration system to remove any remaining contamination. The air is then sealed in a container and shipped for testing.

After a year of operating the system, the bays are operating below the state standards.

Throughout the entire project, Endzone Inc. has worked closely with the local community board, community leaders and residents to be transparent and lessen community impact.

The remediation project is currently in the “rebound phase” which means the system is shut off for 30 days, then turned back on to test the levels again. This must be done a total of three times by the end of the calendar year, Austin said.

Once the three rebound phases are complete, DEC will determine if the remediation is satisfactory. Following DEC approval, New York City will be able to do what they want with the bays, since they are still the owners of the Ozone Park property.