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hazardous materials


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A Phase I Environmental Assessment was completed for the area and its adjacent surroundings in May of 1999. The assessment involved interviews with persons knowledgeable of the site, a site inspection, and a review of environmental records and databases held by local, state, and federal agencies. Interviews with the property owners and managers of on-site businesses were not conducted, as it was difficult to obtain their cooperation regarding potential hazardous releases. Thus, visual site inspection was limited to public properties only.
A Phase II Site Assessment was completed in both March and August of 2000. In this assessment, an analysis of soil, groundwater, and soil gas samples was done. A portion of the study was completed with a geotechnical investigation.
As of the printing of the DEIS, the two phases had not yet been reviewed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation or any other state or local agencies.

Background Topography

The local topography is controlled by bedrock. Groundwater in the area flows generally towards the east-northeast. It is important to note that it groundwater is not used in the vicinity of the area as a drinking source or as an industrial supply. No public water supply, private wells, or industrial wells are known to be located in the vicinity of the area. Groundwater does not discharge to the surface in the vicinity of the area, and the closest downgradient receptor is Long Island Sound, which is 4,500 feet from the area. Therefore, the chemical composition of the groundwater is not directly impinging on human affairs.

Phase I Findings

With the exception of fuel tanks, no environmental concerns were identified on residential properties. 39 fuel oil tanks are located within the Fifth Avenue area. 17 fuel oil tanks serve residential properties, and of these, 3 are underground tanks. 12 of the 22 commercial tanks are underground. So a total of 15 underground fuel oil tanks are located within the Fifth Avenue area.

On the Citgo Service Station property, a.k.a. S&A Garage, there is one active spill, one closed spill, and a closed tank test failure. The property has a long list of problems and notifications, dating back to May of 1988. There was a report of gasoline in a utility trench, there was a failed tank tightness test, an overdue tank test, a spill, a finding of excessive petroleum in the soil and groundwater, and a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) letter requesting an investigation.

Also, there are nine underground petroleum storage tanks in the area registered with the NYSDEC and there are underground petroleum storage tanks on two adjacent properties managed by Beechmont Bus Service near the eastern boundary of the site. The bus service has an active tank failure but there is no information regarding remediation or follow-up. The spill involved small perforations in a fuel oil storage tank, which was being replaced at the time.

The Bluebird Taxi Service property at 613 Fifth Avenue also has an active gasoline spill from the removal of tanks in 1991, but there is no information on any follow-up here either.

For a breakdown of the areas of environmental concern, see Table 3.14-2

Recommendations from Phase I:
Re-determine the fuel tanks' status at Citgo.
Visually inspect the building interiors and interview the managers/owners.
Investigate the three reported NYSDEC active spill sites (Beechmont, Citgo, Bluebird) further.
Determine if further Phase II testing should be undertaken.

Targeted Phase II Assessment

The purpose of Phase II was to characterize the hazardous materials or petroleum products within the Area via soil and groundwater sampling. The study targeted the three previously mentioned businesses, as well as the Absolute Coatings facility at 38 Portman Street because of its chemical usage and its status as a hazardous waste generator. The analysis was unable to procure data from private properties, so additional investigation and sampling of these properties adjacent to Citgo are still necessary.

The six geotechnical sites found no volatile organic compounds. However, six of the seven environmental borings found volatile organic compounds, the most egregious of which were found at wells E-12 (950-3,500 PPM), E-13 (23-225 PPM), adjacent to Citgo. These two wells contain a number of gasoline-related volatile organic compounds greatly in excess of state standards. The report confirms that gasoline-related compounds are present in the soil and groundwater near the Citgo station.
Tri-chloroethylene, a common solvent used in the manufacturing industry, was found at well E-8, adjacent to Absolute Coatings. This concentration is also above the State Ambient Water Quality Standard.

The compound 1,2-dichloroethylene was also found in E-18 (center of area) and E-1 (eastern edge), which is a huge distribution area. This chemical concentration was above the standards but the source was not known.

MTBE, a gasoline additive that is at the center of some serious environmental issues, was found in six of the ten sampled wells, with the highest being at E-12 (7,100 micrograms/liter), E-16, and E-1. This is quite spread out, from the northwestern, southern, and eastern areas of the site. According to the EPA, MTBE concentrations between 20 and 40 parts per billion in drinking water would cause negative health effects ( Even with that being said, the DEIS states that E-8 represents relatively low hazardous levels because the groundwater is not a drinking source, nor does it discharge into a sensitive receptor.

It must be noted that this is an old urban industrialized area, and that inherently, it will have relatively low concentrations of volatile organic compounds, which it does. The low-level concentrations do not warrant remediation, but according to the report, the Citgo Station spills represent a "known potential threat to human health and the environment, and therefore warrant remediation". Ikea was very concerned about the site.

Significant environmental effects from the releases were not expected because of the remediation that would occur before demolition. Now, without Ikea, a remediation plan must be agreed upon by the current property owner, the City, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Also, the report says that it can be assumed that the park has been affected by the petroleum and the City and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will need to remediate the property.