Pumps & Lawsuits, but No Answers at Roebling Oil Field
The Roebling Oil Field Building at Roebling and N. 11th Streets in Williamsburg may be one of the only condos in New York City to come with a pump that will have an oil separator. GL has learned that the building, which is on a site on which significant quantities of oil were found during excavation, will include a water pump with a device that removes oil from water. This is because of "free product" that may still be floating on the groundwater table and because part of the foundation of the building will be below the water table. (Traces of benzene have also been found in the groundwater, but at very low levels.) If the city grants permission, the waste water will be dumped into the city sewer system. In theory, water dumped into the sewers will have had pollutants removed, but a similar system being used by Exxon/Mobil to address the massive oil spill along Newtown Creek was found to be releasing pollutants into the creek and is now the subject of litigation.
GL has also been told that the reason no information has been released about results from the many test well drilled around N. 11th and Roebling Streets is that none are available. The wells were drilled to try to determine the source of oil that has flowed into the Roebling Oil Field and its possible spread in the neighborhood. Results, so far, are incomplete. The source of oil has not been determined, although it is strongly believed to be coming from an off-site source to the north or east of the building known as McCarren Park Mews. What experts call "free product" (underground oil pollution to you and me, not a few gratis drops of the stuff that is going for $3.50 a gallon) is still believed to be in the area. Litigation is brewing about "free product" that was not previously cleaned up under Department of Environmental Conservation supervision at an adjoining development.
In the meantime, contaminated soil was removed during excavation and protective barriers were put in place in the McCarren Park Mews development in accordance with currently accepted remediation standards The practice of removing soil and then sealing the foundation of a building is increasingly being questioned in terms of its longterm safety, but it is the most common cleanup procedure nationwide.