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EPA Proposes $20 Million Settlement with Lightstone Group Development to Conduct Cleanup on the Banks of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site in Brooklyn; 17,500 Cubic Yards of Contaminated Soil to be Removed

Release Date: 09/09/2014
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y. – September 9, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced proposed agreements with two subsidiaries of The Lightstone Group that are developing 700 units of residential housing adjacent to the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York. The companies, LSG 363 Bond Street LLC and LSG 365 Bond Street LLC, have agreed to conduct sampling, cleanup work, and other measures on three parcels of land along the Gowanus Canal. The three parcels, which total 3.4 acres, are also subject to a cleanup as part of a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Brownfield redevelopment program. The estimated value of the work under the settlements is approximately $20 million. The EPA will accept public comments on the two proposed settlement agreements until October 8, 2014.

      “These settlements illustrate that the Superfund program can work in parallel with redevelopment,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The removal of contaminated soil and the other actions proposed under this agreement will reduce pollution along the Gowanus Canal and serve as a model for addressing the impacts of future potential development along the Canal.”

      Under the terms of the settlements, and with EPA oversight, the Lightstone subsidiaries will, among other actions:

      • Conduct additional sampling to help determine additional source areas of contamination
      • Remove an estimated 17,500 cubic yards of contaminated soil to facilities licensed to receive the waste
      • Construct a bulkhead to prevent residual contamination from spreading and to permit dredging
      • Ensure that the project will not be a future contamination source to the Canal through EPA approval of sewage and stormwater plans

      More than a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals, including mercury, lead and copper, were found at high levels in the sediment in the Gowanus Canal. PAHs and heavy metals were also found in the canal water. PAHs are a group of chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage or other organic substances. PCBs were used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment and their manufacture was banned in 1979. PCBs and PAHs are suspected to be cancer-causing and PCBs can have neurological effects as well.

      The EPA finalized its plan to clean up the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in September 2013. The cleanup will include removing contaminated sediment that has accumulated as a result of industrial and sewer discharges from the bottom of the Canal by dredging. The dredged areas will then be capped. The plan also includes controls to reduce combined sewer overflows, and other land-based sources of pollution from compromising the cleanup. The engineering design work for the project is ongoing.

      The Lightstone properties, which were re-zoned by the City of New York for residential use in 2009, were formerly used for a variety of industrial purposes, including oil terminals, dry cleaners, manufacturing and warehousing. Sampling has identified contamination at the properties, particularly Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs), PAHs and metals from historic operations, which needs to be cleaned up. The state Brownfields cleanup work addresses the land’s future use as residential housing; the EPA-required work will prevent the contaminants from getting into the Gowanus Canal.

      The EPA has identified numerous parties that are potentially responsible for the contamination of the Gowanus Superfund site, including National Grid, the City of New York and other private and federal government entities. Lightstone has not been identified as a party responsible for the contamination at the Gowanus Superfund site based on provisions of the Superfund law designed to promote productive reuse of land that is, or may be, contaminated. In exchange for agreeing to the cleanup work announced today, the EPA has agreed not to sue Lightstone in the future for additional cleanup work related to existing contamination at the property and impacts to or from the Gowanus Canal. The public is encouraged to comment on this proposed agreement.

      Comments should be sent by email or mail to Brian Carr, Assistant Regional Counsel, U.S. EPA, 290 Broadway - 17th Floor, New York, New York 10007-1866, or carr.brian@epa.gov.

      The Orders can be found on the EPA’s web site at
      http://epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/gowanus/additionaldocs.html

      Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and Facebook at http://facebook.com/eparegion2.

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