Buildings on a radioactive block of Ridgewood will be demolished as part of cleanup plan

Map courtesy of DEC

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is ready to begin cleaning up the former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company Superfund site on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border, but they want to hear from the community first.

The EPA recently proposed $39.4 million cleanup plan of the Superfund site located on the corner of Cooper and Irving avenues. But before the plan can be put into action, the EPA will hold a 30-day public comment period from Friday, July 28 to Aug. 28 in order to get community input on the plan.

Map courtesy of the EPA
Map courtesy of the EPA

There are currently several buildings on the site along with soil and sewers that have been contaminated with radioactive materials from the industrial activities that took place when the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company was in operation operated between 1920 and 1954.

Previous actions taken by the EPA, along with state and city agencies, removed any immediate threats to the long-term health of nearby residents, employees and visitors to the site at the corner of Cooper and Irving avenues, according to the EPA. But more needs to be done.

The proposed plan involves permanently relocating five commercial businesses; the demolition of all contaminated buildings at the site; cleaning and replacing contaminated sewers; and the excavation, removal and off-site disposal of an estimated 24,300 cubic yards of contaminated soil, sediment and debris.

The EPA will support and assist the on-site tenants with relocating them.

“The EPA has used the Superfund program to successfully address shorter term risks posed by the radiation at this site, and this proposed plan moves us closer to a permanent fix that will protect those who live and work in the area over the long term,” said Catherine McCabe, acting regional administrator with the EPA. “While we recognize that relocation will be a stress on these businesses, we are weighing that against the long-term risks from radiation, which include an increased risk of cancer. EPA believes that this proposal offers the best course of action.”

Before the plan can get going, the public is asked to comment on the proposed plan.

The EPA will hold a public meeting on Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Audrey Johnson Day Care Center, located at 272 Moffat St., Bushwick, to explain the cleanup proposal. Comments will be accepted until Aug. 28, when the EPA will review all public comments and prepare detailed responses.

Written comments may be mailed or emailed to Thomas Mongelli, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA, 290 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10007.

Comments can also be e-mailed mongelli.thomas[@]epa.gov.

To view the proposed cleanup plan, visit www.epa.gov/superfund/wolff-alport.

The former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company used to process imported monazite sand and extract rare earth metals. According to the EPA, monazite contains approximately 6 to 8 percent thorium, which is radioactive. Until 1947, the company disposed of their thorium waste into the sewer and on its property. In 1947, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission ordered Wolff-Alport to stop those practices.

More from Around New York