Petitioning Village of Tuckahoe Planning Board Members of the Village of Tuckahoe Planning Board and 7 others

TuckahoeToxic Dump: Approve a Full Environmental ImpactStudy b4 digging for Marriott Hotel

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To protect the communities of lower Westchester County N.Y., we ask that the Village of Tuckahoe Planning Board approves a Full Environmental Impact Study of the Marbledale Road Former Quarry Dump, before continuing with any development proposal in the dump.

The Marbledale Road Quarry dump was used as an Industrial Dump from 1950es - 1970es.  Testing has revealed significant and dangerous contamination of the soil, soil vapors, and groundwater in the Quarry Dump.

A Marriott hotel is proposed to be built on the ~3.5 acre center portion of the ~7 acre dump.  Yet, the site has not been completely, nor thoroughly examined, nor tested.

No Toxic Hazardous Waste Site should ever be disturbed without completely knowing what horrors lie in wait.

No Remedial Plan or Construction Activity should be started without thoroughly understanding the nature of the toxic hazardous threats.

In March, 2016, the NY Department of Health “determined that the site poses a significant threat to public health or the environment."

The remaining approximately 3.5 acres of the Quarry Dump site, in April, 2016, was entered into the N.Y.D.E.C. Super Fund - Inactive Hazardous Waste Program "P" designation.

To Protect the Health, Safety and Welfare of Tuckahoe, Eastchester, Bronxville, Yonkers, Mt. Vernon, and the surrounding communities, a Full Environmental Impact Study must be done, before any remediation or construction plan can be properly formulated.

Please Join us in requesting that the Village of Tuckahoe Planning Board rescind the Conditional Negative Declaration, and Approve a Full Environmental Impact Study of Marbledale Road Quarry Dump and the Marriott Springhill Suites project.

Thank you for Taking Action and Protecting the Community.

The Marbledale Road Environmental Coalition

For more information please see:  www.MarbledaleRoad.com

The complete petition to the Tuckahoe Village Planning Board:

Petition

The undersigned people of the Village of Tuckahoe and neighbors in Bronxville, Eastchester and surrounding communities hereby petition the Village of Tuckahoe Planning Board (“Board”)  to review, reconsider and rescind that certain Conditioned Negative Declaration, issued and approved pursuant to the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) on September 15, 2015 for a hotel/restaurant project located at 109 Marbledale Road, Tuckahoe, NY by Bilwin Development Affiliates, LLC., (“Bilwin”) and instead to issue a positive declaration and require the preparation of an environmental impact statement on the project, for the reasons and purposes described herein.

Background

1.   The project is a 5-story hotel, originally proposed for 163 rooms, a 1-story 6,400 square foot restaurant, and a parking lot covering virtually the rest of the approximately 3.45-acre development site. 

2.   The Board has authority to review and approve the site plan for the proposed project. 

3.   The Board also serves as lead agency for the review of the project under SEQRA. SEQRA is a state law that requires agencies to evaluate the prospective environmental impact of their actions.  To do this they must identify the project’s potentially significant adverse environmental impacts, take a “hard look” at them and then determine whether there might be at least one adverse environmental impact.   If the agency finds that there might be one, it must prepare an environmental impact statement before it may approve the action.  A negative declaration allows the project to proceed without any further review under SEQRA. 

4.   The project is sited on a former quarry that was used for almost 30 years as a dumping ground for a wide variety of industrial and municipal-incinerator wastes.  As a result of the contamination, Bilwin sought inclusion in the state Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) Brownfield Cleanup Program (“BCP”), which provides funding for volunteers to remediate waste sites for productive reuse.

 

5.   The project site occupies about half of the former quarry that was used as a dump (see attached figure).  The project site is directly contiguous to the remainder of the quarry dump, and there is no physical separation between the two.  There is no barrier to subsurface migration of contaminants from one to the other. 

6.   There has also been no allegation that the project site was used for dumping in any manner differently from the rest of the dump.  In all physical respects the project site is a central part of the former quarry dump. 

7.   On September 15, 2015 the Board issued a Conditioned Negative Declaration (“CND”) under SEQRA.  The CND asserted that there would be no adverse environmental impact from the project “if remediation of site is done to DEC and DOH [state Department of Health] standards.”  With this condition, the Board was fully relying on these two state agencies to protect public health and the environment through conditions that they would impose on the project, including proper investigation of the site, followed by effective remediation.  

8.   In approving the CND the Board was informed by Bilwin’s assertions that the dumping on the site was consistent with a typical municipal landfill, which are commonly closed and capped. 

 

Basis for Rescission of the Conditioned Negative Declaration

9.   Under the state’s SEQRA regulations, a lead agency such as the Board must rescind a negative declaration before it renders the site plan approval for the project when any of the following occurs:

(i) changes are proposed for the project; or

(ii) new information is discovered; or

(iii) changes in circumstances related to the project arise;

that were not previously considered and the lead agency determines that a significant adverse environmental impact may result.

          6 NYCRR § 617.7(f) (emphasis added) 

 

10.  Here, a wealth of new information and substantial changes in circumstances relating to environmental impact of the project and the site contamination has come to light since the CND.  These changes require the Board to reconsider and rescind the CND under the above-cited regulation, in light of the Board’s responsibility under SEQRA to review any prospective significant adverse environmental impact and to ensure that it is mitigated.

 

11.  In November, 2015 DEC issued a fact sheet on the site which noted in part that as a result of regional hydrogeology, the “[g]roundwater flow is assumed to be south-southwest toward the Bronx River.”  This assumption has been reiterated and adopted in subsequent findings by the DEC and has never been contradicted. 

 

12.  The Marbledale Road Coalition retained a professional hydro- geologist, Paul Rubin of HydroQuest, Inc., to advise on the flow of groundwater  on and off the site, and downstream.  In addition to the general flow through the soil to the south-southwest toward the Bronx River, Mr. Rubin presented detailed evidence of karstic features in the area surrounding the project site.  Karst is characterized by conduits such as caves through the bedrock due to the cumulative dissolution of portions of the bedrock.  Such conduits would provide a means to rapidly and effectively transport contaminants from the site to downstream locations. 

 

13.  The applicant completed a Remedial Investigation (“RI”) Report which described the results of environmental investigations conducted in 2015. This report was issued in draft form on September 16, 2015, and was not finalized until March 2016, approximately six months subsequent to the issuance of the CND.  The RI Report provided new information hitherto unknown about the site, despite prior investigations of the site in 2013 (Phase II Environmental Site Assessment), This new information included, among other things:

·         evidence of soil contamination extending to depths of 85 feet below ground surface;

·         evidence of higher levels of groundwater contamination with volatile  and semi-volatile aromatic compounds, and

·         high levels of a wide variety of chemicals in soil vapors throughout the Brownfield site

 

14.  These findings were supplemented by groundwater sampling conducted by the DEC on December 16, 2016. The sampling results were released to the public in January 2016, approximately four months subsequent to the issuance of the CND. The sampling results showed very high levels of heavy metal contamination in many of the monitoring wells at the Brownfield site.

 

15. Taken together, the monitoring results included numerous findings of toxic chemicals in quantities far exceeding health and environmental standards.  Many groundwater, soil, and soil vapor samples were found to be contaminated with chlorinated and non-chlorinated solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons , chlorofluorocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heavy metals, among other things. These include, among others:

·         perchloroethylene (carcinogenic, more than 300x groundwater standard)trichloroethylene (carcinogen), up to 10x groundwater standard

·         arsenic (carcinogen), up to 11x groundwater standard

·         antimony, up to 120x groundwater standard

·         mercury  (neurotoxin), up to 23x groundwater standard),

·         lead (neurotoxin), up to 1,380x groundwater standard

·         chromium (carcinogen), up to 21x groundwater standard)

PAHs are found throughout the site, Examples include benz(a)anthracene (carcinogenic, more than 9,000x groundwater standard), benzo(b)fluoranthene (carcinogenic, more than 10,000x groundwater standard), andphenol (100x groundwater standard).

 

16.  The Marbledale Road Coalition retained an independent environmental consultant, Donald Hughes, P.E., Ph.D. of Hughes Environmental Consulting, who issued a report on February 29, 2016 assessing data collected at the BCP site. In this report, Dr. Hughes concluded that:

·         The parts of the quarry outside the BCP site were not tested, which seriously limits the conclusions that can be drawn concerning the BCP site

·         Soil testing results understate the vertical extent of the contamination because there were no analyses of soil deeper than 51 feet below grade. Many soil samples taken below this depth had odors indicating substantial petroleum contamination.  Based on multiple lines of evidence, the original quarry almost certainly extended 100 feet below the surface. 

·         the site probably contains chemical drums and tanks

·         the site is likely contaminated with dioxin, due to a history of chemical fires, and

·         the site may contain elevated radioactivity, based on accounts of prior dumping.

 

 

17.  The findings of toxic contamination are consistent with an affidavit submitted by Joseph Marinello, the longtime former chairman of the Tuckahoe Board of Police Commissioners.  Mr. Marinello attested that he personally saw the site intensely used as a dump for a wide variety of municipal and industrial wastes for most of three decades, starting in the early 1950s.  His affidavit described the dumping he witnessed from his home on the ridge just above the site, and the damage it caused to the neighborhood.  The affidavit reads in part: 

When I returned home from the Korean War in 1954, I got off the train, and put my duffle bag on my shoulder, and began walking home.  I turned onto Circuit Avenue, the street where I was born.  As I was walking up, I could not believe the foul air and the stench.  I could not believe that anyone could live there.

I asked my father what was going on, my father said that they were filling the quarry with waste.  I asked what the community was doing about it, and my father said that we were told to keep our mouths shut. 

 * * * *

For approximately 27 years, I witnessed an immense amount of industrial and toxic dumping in the quarry. 

I witnessed repeated spontaneous combustion of the site. 

There were Eastchester Fire Trucks parked in front of the Quarry because of the constant fires. 

As they kept filling the quarry with toxic debris ash and all sorts of containers of combustible chemicals, the area would ignite. 

Mr. Marinello also includes a lengthy list of the private industries and municipalities he witnessed dumping at the quarry. 

 

2.   In March, 2016, based on the findings of the remedial investigation, the New York State Department of Health, “determined that the site poses a significant threat to public health or the environment.” This finding was based on the high levels of Freons and other chemicals found in soil vapors emanating from the site. Recent testing of vapors under 125 Marbledale Rd. and 173 Marbledale Rd. have confirmed high levels of TCE, PCE, and Freon. Soil vapor contaminants, which can migrate into nearby buildings, have been found at levels which exceed USEPA and/or DOH guidelines.These include

·         trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), chloroform and vinyl chloride

·         benzene,  and ethylbenzene

·         Freon 11, and Freon 12

 

18.  DEC has concluded that the portions of the former quarry outside the brownfield development is potentially eligible for listing on the state register of inactive hazardous waste sites (i.e. state “Superfund”).  It is identifying potentially responsible parties for the contamination to  begin the process of investigating and remediating this section of the former quarry. 

 

19.  Bilwin and DEC issued a draft Remedial Action Work Plan (“RAWP”) for the BCP site. The preferred alternative in the RAWP would allow virtually all of the contamination to remain in place (i.e. all, except for a few, as-yet unidentified “hot spots”), and would purport to address the contamination by requiring an impermeable cap over the site. 

 

20.  Investigations of the BCP site have confirmed the presence of a wide variety of contaminants, as listed under Paragraph 15. Compounds and metals found at the site confirm the presence of petroleum products, refrigerants, degreasing solvents, laboratory solvents, automotive products, and industrial wastes like PCBs. The site served as a receptacle for wastes from a wide variety of industries. Thus, it is more likely than not that the site contains toxic substances which have not been tested for, including polychlorinated dioxins (discussed below), pharmaceutical compounds, fluorinated compounds such as PFOA, hydrogen sulfide (common at landfills), and radioactivity. Without knowing the true contents of the former dump site, it is difficult to assure the safety of the community, especially when construction is underway.

 

21.  The cap is an ineffective strategy even for the limited remedial job that caps are otherwise suited for:  keeping water from flowing into the contaminated soil.  Here, water will continue to flow into the contaminated soil from two obvious sources: precipitation onto the areas of the former quarry/dump outside the Brownfield site, which has no physical distinction from the capped area; and the general groundwater flow in the area from north-northeast to south-southwest through the site.  The “cap” was included in the remedial plan from the beginning because it consists of the main physical components of the project – the proposed hotel, restaurant and parking lot – not because it will prevent the migration of toxic pollutants off-site. 

 

22.  The draft RAWP includes provisions for the collection of toxic soil vapors. The nature and extent of a soil vapor collection system is still under consideration. No groundwater collection and treatment system or any other means to prevent contaminated groundwater migration offsite has been proposed in the RAWP.

 

23.  At a public meeting on April 14, 2016 DEC staff made clear its intent to adopt the RAWP preferred alternative, and in particular to leave the contamination in place.  Among other things, DEC dismissed the high levels of toxic contamination in some groundwater samples by focusing only on the dissolved portion of the toxic contaminants, including lead among many others.  To do this it filtered the samples to utilize only the dissolved concentrations.  DEC’s data manipulation ignores both state groundwater standards which restrict total, not merely dissolved, concentrations of the pollutants, and EPA guidance restricting filtration of groundwater samples to situations not applicable here. 

 

24.  DEC’s data manipulation relied on the supposition that groundwater migrating off the site would be filtered by the soil.  However, this ignores the karst-type conduits which would carry the water quickly through the bedrock with little or no filtration.  DEC dismissed the possibility of such conduits, without doing any monitoring for them, by citing monitoring from a nearby site which was in a different bedrock formation, with a completely different type of rock.  DEC presented this clearly misguided rationale for the first time in the meeting, orally, without any formal analysis or findings which would have highlighted the error.     

                              

25.  The RAWP also relies on the misguided notion that people would not be exposed to the contaminated groundwater because it is not used for water supply.  However DEC is ignoring exposure due to migration of contaminated groundwater to or near the surface.  The groundwater flows toward a confluence with the Bronx River in Bronxville, either through subsurface soils and bedrock fractures or through karstic conduits that emerge in springs.  There are numerous reports of very high groundwater and occasional flooding in the southern Tuckahoe/Bronxville area, and additionally some facilities use well water for irrigation.  And the Bronx River and its associated wetlands represent a diverse ecosystem with numerous avenues to expose people and biota to any contamination transported in the groundwater.  Exposure may result from either the groundwater surfacing while still carrying its toxic contamination, or the volatile chemicals such as TCE emerging into the air outside the BCP site (e.g., in buildings). 

 

26.  The RAWP is also based on limited monitoring.  Only a small fraction of collected soils were tested for contamination, and large portions of the dump were not tested at all.

 

27.  Moreover, there was no testing for polychlorinated dioxin (“dioxins”) contamination or for the existence of chemical storage containers (e.g. drums, tanks).  Both of these are indicated from the history of the site.  Dioxins are products of combustion which are indicated here both because of the dumping of incinerator ash and more significantly, the numerous chemical fires that occurred at the dump. Dioxins are highly toxic, even at low concentrations. They tend to adhere to small particles, such as dust.

 

28.   The presence of drums and/or tanks is indicated by eyewitness accounts of the dumping as well as the continued release of chemicals, especially Freon.  The DEC Project Manager has acknowledged ( June 14, 2016   e-mail) “Based on the history and investigation of the site, I am very confident that there are drums, tanks, etc. on-site.” Re-grading of the site for the hotel, installation of drainage, and hot-spot removal at the site will disturb the top 8-15 feet of soils. This construction activity will likely encounter buried drums, tanks,etc., potentially releasing hazardous amounts of chemical vapors and dusts into the air.

 

29.  The shortcomings in the RAWP have led to substantial controversy and expressions of concern from the community.  The April 14, 2016 public meeting was packed to standing room capacity, and the attendees were unanimously opposed to, or critical of, the RAWP.  Since the meeting, several community and political leaders including state Senator George Latimer, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (joint letter) have written DEC to oppose the RAWP and urge stronger protective measures and/or investigation. 

 

30.  The RAWP preferred alternative is especially unprotective and ill-advised in light of the DEC’s classification of the rest of the quarry/dump as a potential inactive hazardous waste (“P”) site, and onset of the process to fix it.  The separate Brownfield “cap” would simply render the wastes buried in the soil under the proposed parking lot and buildings impossible to remediate under the cleanup process undertaken for the public health and safety rather than Bilwin’s benefit.  As Sen. Latimer and Assemblywoman Paulin wrote in their May 2, 2016 letter to the commissioners of DEC and DOH, “it appears that the entire [quarry] site was used as a dump by municipal, commercial and industrial entities, and there is no basis for treating one portion of the overall site differently for investigative purposes simply because it has been selected for potential development.” 

 

31.  The Board’s role as lead agency is to ensure that the SEQRA review diligently analyzes all potential adverse impacts on human health and the environment, and mitigates them.  The information and changes in circumstances since the September, 2015 CND make it obvious that the DEC Brownfield process for the Bilwin proposal utterly fails to ensure a reasonable cleanup, or even that the development will not increase the potential for exposure of people and the environment to the toxic chemicals. 

 

32.  It is clear that the Board’s delegation of the cleanup to DEC has not proven successful, and the protection of Tuckahoe residents and those of neighboring communities requires a more careful and protective review, and that the failure to have done so threatens significant adverse impacts on the human and natural environment.  Under the SEQRA regulations, in such circumstances, the Board must rescind the CND, and since a positive declaration is required whenever there might have “the potential for at least one significant adverse environmental impact [6 NYCRR § 617.7(a)(1)], issue a positive declaration and require an environmental impact statement for the proposed project. 

 

WHEREFORE, the undersigned respectfully petition the Village of Tuckahoe to rescind the Conditioned Negative Declaration adopted and declared on or about September 15, 2015, and to issue a positive declaration and require an environmental impact statement, as recorded and attested by their signatures below. 

 

 

This petition will be delivered to:
  • Village of Tuckahoe Planning Board
    Members of the Village of Tuckahoe Planning Board
  • Chairperson
    Ann Marie Ciaramella
  • Commissioner
    David Barra
  • Commissioner
    Melba Caliano
  • Commissioner
    Clare Gorman
  • Commissioner
    Eric Fang
  • Commissioner
    R. Nerenberg
  • Village Administrator
    David Burke

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