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The warehouse at 18-46 Decatur St., where a brownfield cleanup is set to begin in May.

Updated on May 8 at 9:50 a.m.

An environmental cleanup is set to begin at a Ridgewood building with contaminated soil that served as a local tuxedo warehouse for nearly 25 years.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently designated the site at 1846 Decatur St. as a brownfield site through its Brownfield Cleanup Program, an effort to encourage the voluntary cleanup of contaminated locations so they can be reused and redeveloped.

DEC records show that the cleanup, performed by BMHQ Realty LLC, begins in May and is scheduled to last for about 16 weeks.

According to the DEC website, a brownfield site is defined as any property where a contaminant is present at levels exceeding the soil cleanup objectives or other health-based or environmental standards. In the case of the Decatur Street property, investigators found tetrachloroethene (PERC) in surface soil, shallow soil and groundwater at elevated levels.

A manufactured chemical that is widely used in the dry-cleaning of fabrics, PERC has been shown to cause reduced scores on neurobehavioral or color vision tests, increased levels of biochemical indicators of liver or kidney damage, reduced red blood cells, blood and immune system effects, as well as reproductive effects and cancer in some cases, according to the state Department of Health. The majority of PERC exposure cases happen when people inhale its vapors in the air.

At the Decatur Street building, where the tuxedo warehouse operated from 1991 to 2015, investigators found PERC mostly near the former dry cleaning equipment room in the northern corner of the site, DEC documents show. During the cleanup, approximately 20 cubic yards of contaminated soil and concrete will be removed, contaminated groundwater will be treated and clean fill will be added to the site.

Although the data from the investigation suggests that no groundwater off site has been contaminated, the report states that additional investigation is needed to determine if PERC vapors have intruded the soil at any neighboring sites. The warehouse is attached to a multi-family building to the north and a two-family building to the south.

A spokesperson for the DEC told QNS that the agency will seek access agreements with neighboring property owners to perform an investigation to determine if any additional mitigation is necessary, and that investigation will be paid for by the state.

When asked about how the agency would remove contamination from a building with tenants, the spokesperson added, “These procedures are generally the same for residential or commercial properties.”

Since the area is served by the public water supply that is not contaminated by the site, the DEC report noted that people are not drinking the contaminated groundwater. PERC vapors held in the soil, however, have the potential to move into buildings and affect the indoor air quality, the report said.

According to city records, the warehouse sold for $1.7 million in 2015, but no applications for future development have been filed yet through the Department of Buildings.




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