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Padavan rejects state’s plan to clean up College Pt. site

At an open meeting at Ft. Totten Friday, state Sen. Frank Padavan (D-Whitestone) criticized the state Department of Environmental Conservation for insufficient remediation on the proposed 86-unit condo development.The site is known to contain a torrent of toxic pollutants, emitting what PACE University marine biologist James Cervino describes as a metal oxidized "river of orange ooze," stemming from a long history of industrial dumping. DEC is overseeing the remediation of the site, formerly owned by College Point Properties, which is to be performed by its new developer, Halpern Real Estate Development in Purchase, N.Y. But Cervino's findings prompted Padavan to ask for further testing.In addition, Padavan is opposed to a proposed filtering system to be built inside the new homes.The piping is called subslab depressurization, a new technology, according to DEC representative Daniel Walsh.The technology uses PVC pipes to funnel contaminants from below the earth through pipes the living quarters and out above the roof. A home owners association would be required to maintain the pipes, Walsh told the meeting of about 10 state, city and borough officials. "I've never seen anything like this," said Padavan. "We're talking about coming into a brownfield and building these homes. These are exhaust pipes going up through the living rooms on 86 two-family houses."DEC representative Daniel Walsh countered: "When dealing with the development of any brownfield site, you're really looking at one of these systems being put in. (Subslab) is being relied upon to ensure the protection of the homes."Walsh said extensive studies by the DEC and state Department of Health have been done over the last several years to come to the current remediation conclusions. "The goal was not to paper over a problem but to address it," Walsh said. "Our goal is to take out the hot spots of contamination, but you can't take out the whole landfill because the whole site is a landfill down to the water level."Some 20 percent of the city is built on landfills, Walsh said, but Padavan pointed out that when landfills are built over, they are clean."Twenty percent may be a landfill, but they didn't dump what they dumped here," Padavan said.Cervino also criticized the DECs remediation, claiming its initial tests were too sporadic throughout the site. In his own tests of the site, near his own property, he said he was unable to grow any living bacteria in the wetlands.The fight, he said, is far from over."I started sampling everything within the point source. All species: mussels, crabs, oysters, sand worms, barnacles and sea grasses," he said. "None of them were there."Padavan also remained adamant that the plans are unsuitable for College Point."We're going to do whatever we can to stop this," he said.Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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