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Cleanup Update: Work at Tesla Lab to begin
by Jane Alcorn, 14 September 2005
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
(NYSDEC) and Department of Health held a public availability session
on Monday, September 12 at the North Shore Public Library to give
community members an opportunity to discuss Agfa Corporation's plans
for contamination cleanup at the Peerless Photo Products site on
Route 25A and Randall Road in Shoreham.
After more than ten years of soil and groundwater testing on the
Peerless site, which began in September of 1993, the NYSDEC and
Agfa Corporation unveiled an ambitious fifteen-week clean up to
begin on September 19.
"Our goal is to be out by the end of the year," said
Charlene Graff, a representative of Agfa Corporation. "We would
like to be out by Christmas."
Many of the attending community members expressed surprise at
the early start date and fast timeline. Girish Desai, Project Manager
for the NYSDEC, responded by saying that it is something that cannot
wait any longer.
"We have to get it done," said Desai. "The longer
we wait, the more problems there will be."
The twelve-part plan involves the removal of contaminated soil
from five specific areas on the site found to have elevated levels
of the inorganic compounds cadmium and silver. The excavated areas
will then be backfilled with clean soil and with soil from the site
found to have acceptable levels of the contaminants.
The plan calls for better cleaning than the state requires, with
concentration levels to be reduced to around 120 parts per million
(ppm), rather than the state mandated 300 ppm.
"I am really glad because they are holding the clean up to
a higher standard," said Mary Daum, president of the Shoreham
Civic Organization. "It will be very good for the residential
Three of the five contaminated areas run along the LILCO
Right-Of-Way and the West Soil Storage Area. At these locations the
contamination will be removed with a combination of excavation and
off-site disposal of surface and subsurface soils, and then backfilled
with clean soil.
A fourth area of concern is the North Recharge Basin in the
northeast corner of the Peerless site. Cleanup in this area will
entail excavation of surface and subsurface soils, followed by
backfilling to two feet below ground level with excavated soils
from the LIPA Right-Of-Way area that have been tested below the 300
ppm. The remaining two feet will then be backfilled with clean
The fifth area of contamination is the Tesla Tower Base, where
a twenty-foot diameter area will be excavated to a depth of thirty
feet and backfilled with clean fill. As a precautionary measure to
ensure no further leaching of contaminants into the groundwater,
the area thirty feet to one hundred feet below ground will undergo
in situ stabilization. In situ stabilization is a process for
treating contaminated soils by solidifying the soils using either
microbial polymers or asphalt/concrete mixtures.
Following the fifteen-week plan, Agfa Corporation will provide
an annual certification, prepared and submitted by an environmental
professional, which confirms that the controls and preventions put
in place remain unchanged from year to year for a period of thirty
During the site clean up process, Agfa Corporation also has plans
to remove three of the buildings on the site that have fallen into
disrepair through years of neglect. Graff pointed out the Administration
building, the Waste Water Treatment Plant, and an onsite former
residence as those buildings in the process of being scheduled for
demolition and removal.
"We are going to try to remove them while we have the trucks
and the manpower onsite," said Graff.
The Peerless Photo Products site has not only been an area of
contention due to the contamination problems, but has also been a
place of interest for Friends of Science East, Inc., a local
not-for-profit organization, which has been trying to convert the
location into a science museum. The site was once the Long Island
laboratory of famous scientist Nikola Tesla and includes a building
designed by renowned architect Stanford White.
It is the hope of Friends of Science East, Inc. that once the
decontamination process is complete, Agfa Corporation will hand it
over to Town of Brookhaven which will then contract with the group
to use the land as the aforementioned museum. Until such time,
however, the people involved in the clean up are glad to have come
"Happy ending," said Desai. "It's getting cleaned
Source: The Sound Observer
(Reproduced with permission.)