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EPA Orders Flushing Business To Remove Hazardous Chemicals From Site Company's Proximity To Residential Areas and Flushing Creek A Main Concern

Release Date: 11/17/1998
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(#98159A) New York, N.Y.-- QR Development Corporation, a Flushing, Queens company, will undertake a cleanup of its four-acre industrial facility at 39-08 Janet Place after an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that the company improperly stored hazardous materials at its site that posed a threat to the environment.

QR's violations of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980 were discovered in April 1998, when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) responded to a report of a fuel spill from the QR facility into Flushing Creek. When DEC staff arrived at the site, they found that all QR personnel had left. During the cleanup by DEC, forty to fifty 55-gallon drums, some corroded and dented and bearing hazardous warning labels, were found. At DEC's request, EPA tested the contents of the drums and found corrosive and ignitable hazardous substances that if released, might pose a threat to human health and the environment. CERCLA requires the responsible party to take immediate action to avert such a threat and safeguard the public. To insure that QR properly removes the hazardous substances from its site, EPA has ordered the company to conduct a thorough cleanup under agency supervision.

"The nation's environmental laws mandate that companies that handle hazardous materials behave responsibly," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "In this case, EPA had to step in to make this company aware of the risks posed by the materials it kept on site -- risks made particularly serious given the site's proximity to many homes, and to Flushing Creek and Flushing Bay, which are sensitive aquatic ecosystems. We are pleased that QR Development has taken responsibility for its actions, and is cooperating with EPA's cleanup order."

Over 14,000 people live within a half mile radius of the QR Development facility. Flushing's busy downtown area, Shea Stadium, LaGuardia Airport, and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park are all within one mile of the facility. Flushing Creek, which is adjacent to the facility, flows into Flushing Bay, which is part of the marine ecosystem that includes the East River and the Long Island Sound. The Bay is home to many varieties of fish and to many migrating and wintering birds including black and mallard ducks, egrets, herons and Canadian geese. Flushing Bay is occasionally visited by endangered species including the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon, and the osprey.

EPA has determined that the hazardous materials at the QR site are in a secure location and pose no immediate threat to local residents and the environment. The agency is eager to see the containers disposed of promptly and safely before they deteriorate or security at the site is lessened.

At EPA's direction, QR Development has locked the gates around the facility to prevent tampering with the hazardous substances. QR will soon undertake a cleanup of the site, which will include sampling the contents of the drums and other containers, and, based on the conclusions of the sampling, disposing of the containers at hazardous waste disposal facilities. EPA will closely monitor the work, and QR Development will reimburse EPA for response and oversight costs.

The cleanup is expected to begin later this month, and will last five to six weeks.


For more information contact:
Nina Habib Spencer, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3670 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: habib.nina@epamail.epa.gov