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Foul smell causes more careful cleanup at boro Pepsi site

The odor, which may have partially emanated from a dig adjacent to the Pepsi site where work has been halted, prompted the state Department of Environmental Conservation to step up oversight of the cleanup at the $2.3 billion Queens West development. At the request of the DEC, TRC Companies, which has hauled 50,000 tons of polluted soil from the Pepsi site and says it is two weeks away from finishing the first stage of its cleanup, agreed last week to use more stench buffering foam and to reduce its daily truck trips from more than 100 to 60, said Ed Malley, vice president of TRC. The contractor, which is prepping the land for a series of luxury housing and commercial buildings, came under fire from residents and politicians when the stench first surfaced over the summer, causing the DEC to halt work on the site. "We're trying to get through this," Malley said. "It's a difficult site."The DEC pegged the most recent odor problem on two sources: truckloads of soil from the Pepsi site that were not covered with stench-buffering foam - which TRC had promised to use - and the removal of three 10,000-gallon oil tanks on an adjacent property.Malley said TRC will now be covering all truckloads with the foam as it hauls the contaminated soil to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and on to New Jersey or Pennsylvania for disposal. It will also be making fewer truck trips to lessen the activity on the site, which he said tends to stir up the odor problems. AvalonBay Communities Inc. removed the three oil tanks last week to prepare for the building of a 613-story apartment complex at 48th Avenue and 5th Street. It has agreed to discontinue all work on the property until the DEC approves a clean-up plan, said Gabrielle Done, DEC spokeswoman.She said the DEC is organizing a public hearing in the coming weeks to update the public on remediation work at Queens West.Area resident Kenny Greenberg said he was concerned about the long-term health effects of the odors and wanted stronger oversight over the clean-up work. "Today the fumes are stinging our eyes and scratching our throats. This cannot possibly be harmless," Greenberg wrote April 5 in a community e-mail discussing the stench. "I'm concerned about what we're breathing in the air. Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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