Radiac Redux: Fun with Low Level Radiation in Williamsburg
The story of Williamsburg's Radiac Research Corporation is not a new one. The firm, which is on Kent Avenue, operates as a transfer station for low-level radioactive waste and hazardous chemicals, and has had its share of publicity, including a campaign to shut it down. Yet, it is still there, and the threat it presents in the case of an accident, fire or act of terrorism is sobering especially with thousands of new residents moving in nearby over the next two or three years.
Here's some verbiage from a document prepared by the Rezoning Task Force of Community Board 1 during the Greenpoint/Williamsburg rezoning debate in 2005:
Radiac, at Kent Avenue and S. 1st Street, serves as a transfer station for both hazardous chemicals and low-level radioactive waste. Because of the spatial inadequacies of the footprint of the facility, Radiac often operates with its doors open during loading/unloading of hazardous chemical and radioactive waste. A Molotov cocktail or a gunshot could set off a calamitous event. Engine Co. 212 was located ten blocks from Radiac and could have handled a fire rapidly enough to prevent a meltdown of the low-level nuclear waste (the EPA standard of cleanup of Radioactive events could lead to a 50-year evacuation and quarantine of Williamsburg and parts of Manhattan or Queens, depending on wind direction). This one facility stores up to critical mass of radioactive waste and flammable liquids, reactives, oxidizers, and explosives (up to 15,000 total gallons of hazardous chemical waste)...If that's not enough to make a bite of lunch go down your windpipe, here's a bit more background color from an article in Block Magazine a while back:
That inventory, and charges that Radiac has been lax in the care and security of the chemicals, has residents and neighborhood activists pining for a relocation of the business to a less densely populated area. An accident in Radiac could easily trigger one of the worst environmental disasters New York City has ever seen, says Sean Nagle, the health and research director of activist organization El Puente’s Community Health and Education Institute...We won't even get into the fact that there is nothing--utterly and absolutely nothing other than fate--to stop someone with evil intent from taking advantage of the situation, even if it has been somewhat mitigated. The horrifying possibilities aside, no one that we know of has collected any health data on the facility's neighbors, but it would be interesting to know whether there was any spike in cancers or other illnesses during the 25 years that Radiac has operated.It should be noted that Radiac is now a "10-day transfer facility," meaning that it no longer stores was for up to a year and that they are no longer allowed to store "incompatible chemicals" such as cyanide and acid. However, if you want to see what happened when vbs.tv went by with a geiger counter, click here. One community leaders told GL that "The community has let Radiac slip off the radar since they announced changes in what they would handle and for how long."
Radiac remains relevant as residential developments like Northside Piers, The Edge, 184 Kent and the housing that will likely go on the old Domino Plant site sprout nearby.