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April 11, 2011

At the AY site, soil contains "a limited amount of small vials containing arsenic," but that arsenic's pretty dangerous; state says it's under control

Atlantic Yards Report

You never know what you'll find at a construction site, apparently, including potentially lethal concentrations of arsenic. But the state says it's under control.

From the ATLANTIC YARDS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE [PDF], weeks of March 28, 2011 through April 10, 2011, produced by Forest City Ratner and circulated by the Empire State Development Corporation:

Soil discovered during excavation that contains a limited amount of small vials containing arsenic has been covered with and staged on plastic on the southern area of Block 1127. The stockpiles of soil have been secured and will be inspected daily to ensure secure containment and compliance with the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan. The origin of these vials is unknown. Samples of this soil and vials have been collected and are being analyzed to evaluate proper off-site disposal options. Endpoint samples have been collected from the area where the vials were first observed in order to ensure that no additional impacts to surrounding or underlying soils have occurred. All remediation work associated with these vials will be performed in accordance with the Hazardous Materials Health and Safety Plan. Several potential disposal facilities are being evaluated and the stockpiled soil may be disposed of offsite during this reporting period at a properly permitted disposal facility.

I asked the ESDC about the next steps, and spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell responded last week:

A permitted disposal facility has been selected, and once the follow-up paper work has been filed, the soil will be removed from the site (expected within the next 2-3 weeks). Until then, the soil is stored onsite and is sealed on top of and under plastic.

The powder in the vials tested at 148 mg/L, and the results from the TCLP (USEPA Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure) testing of the soil currently stored on site tested at 0.02 mg/L. The USEPA regulatory limit for arsenic is 5 mg/L.

FCR’s contractors are treating the soil pile as a hazardous material even though the soil tests showed concentrations well under the EPA regulatory limits. Since the contents of the vials found in the soil are above this limit, it is more practical and a more prudent safety measure to treat the soil pile as a hazardous waste than to try and extract the individual vials from the soil and dispose of them separately.

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Posted by eric at April 11, 2011 10:24 AM