On Wednesday, March 16, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation held a public comment period and virtual public meeting regarding the area surrounding the former Dzus Fastener Company building in West Islip, where they proposed that no further remedial action needs to be taken in the section titled OU5.
The former Dzus Fastener Company building located at 425 Union Boulevard in West Islip was in operation from 1932 until 2015 when it shut its doors. The company produced fasteners and springs that were used by different industries both across the country and globe including the U.S. military. Historically, waste from these operations were dumped into on-site leaching pools.
To help keep things organized, the DEC assigns units known as OUs (operable unit) to sites. The site in West Islip has six OUs. OU1 is the former onsite location of the leaching pools and the soil contamination at the site.OU2 is the sediment portion of Willets Creek adjacent to the Beach Street Middle School footbridge. OU2 was later combined with OU3 which encompasses the Willets Creek sediment from Union Boulevard to downstreet of the West Islip High School and is associated with the floodplain soil and sediment which had been previously removed and disposed of offsite. OU4 encompasses Willets Creek and floodplain downstream of West Islip High School and also includes Lake Capri and the floodplain soils. Impacted soil from OU4 has previously been addressed and removed. OU6 is another on-site portion of the former building and was finalized in 2018. The public meeting on March 16, focused solely on OU5, which is the title area of Willets Creek.
From 2016 until 2019, the DEC conducted a remedial investigation for the area in OU5. In the presentation, the DEC said they took 10 samples of surface water in OU5 to compare the concentrations of cadmium and chromium to the ambient water quality and guidance values. From the samples they concluded that the surface water was below the standards for high levels of the elements. The DEC sampled over 800 samples of sediment and analyzed them for cadmium and chromium. They noted that generally, the farther away from Montauk Highway, the lower the concentration of cadmium and chromium. After conferring with Fish and Wildlife, the toxicity in the sediment was deemed to be low-risk to any wildlife and classified as Class A, meaning low-risk to aquatic life. Over 500 samples were collected from the floodplain soil that encompasses about 58 residential properties. The DEC noted that all results were provided to the homeowners from the Department of Health. The concentrations of cadmium and chromium found in the soil were below the threshold, except for in one small area at a residential property. The property owner declined the DEC’s offer to further look into the area and help remediate it. The final media that was tested was clam and crab tissue. Toxicity testing was done on these organisms that showed that neither cadmium or chromium were adversely impacting the tissue. The crab tissue indicated that the contaminants of concern were not substantially accumulating and concentrations were similar to background levels. The background levels were taken from a nearby creek that is not influenced by the Willets Creek flow.
Jacquelyn Nealon, of the New York State Department of Health, also spoke at the meeting and noted that there are limited to no routes of human or environmental exposure that were identified at OU5.
During the question-and-answer portion, a resident asked if it is safe to swim in the creek as may happen when one is kayaking or paddleboarding. Nealon said that because most of the miniscule contamination is in the sediment of the creek, there should be no concern for swimming. She also noted that the concentration of contaminants decreases the farther south one heads. When asked about eating fish or crabs caught in the creek, Nealon said that there is currently a fish advisory put out from NYS and that there are other concerns in terms of eating besides the contaminants from the Dzus site. She recommended checking the fish advisory before eating fish or crabs from the creek.
Before a record of decision, the DEC will still be accepting written comments about the proposed plan through March 28. Project-related questions can be sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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