Friday, September 28, 2007

Environmental Technician Calls Roebling Oil Spill "Huge"

Another test well was drilled yesterday on N. 11th Street across the street from the Roebling Oil Building. One of the technicians working on the project--who is very familiar with the spill area--called the underground spill "huge," according to a resident who had a long conversation with the workers. "It's much bigger than just a tank of oil," he reportedly said. The workers, who are with a firm called Envirotrac, are drilling test wells for the Department of Environmental Conservation. The resident who watched the drilling noted that the soil became "as black as charcoal" as the crew drilled deeper.

Here is some of the report we received:
[The technician] explained that he thought this oil spill was "huge." He gave me some of his opinion. He said that the developer/owner of McCarren Park Mews opposite first started his own investigation which is why the initial test wells were put down. The DEC then took over at state level to continue the investigation because they realized it was much bigger then a few test wells. He believed that when the building opposite started digging they went well below the water table to start their structure and in doing so started to pump the water. When pumping the water, it pulled up the oil from the subsurface and it kept coming as they kept pumping. The guy said to me that it's much bigger then just a tank of oil. They are even putting wells on Union and N 11th for this one. He said they have got work in the area almost everyday.
Here is what the worker is reported to have said about obtaining test results, which many people have complained have not been available to the public:
When I asked if we could get test results, he said "No, I can't give you those." I said, "not from you of course, but would they ever be published in such a way that we(residents) could get them? Like from the DEC?" He said, "You could try but the DEC would never give you that either. They can be difficult most of the time."
We have always been very restrained in characterizing the extent of the underground oil at the Roebling Oil Field because we don't know how much is there or its source, nor have any of the documents we have seen shed light on the mystery. We do know that when people in the field that are doing tests--who are employed by a major player in the environmental testing field--call a spill "huge" and say that it is "much bigger than just a tank of oil" that it tends to set off some alarm bells. Or, at least, creates a strong desire for state environmental officials to fully disclose every bit of information about what is under the ground near the Roebling Oil Field and the potential scope of the oil contamination. Hundreds of new residential units are planned in areas that could potentially be impacted by a "huge" underground contamination issue. The source who had the conversation with the worker concludes by saying this of the lack of information:
It's like sitting on a mine field with nowhere to turn. No one will help us poor residents. Clean up could take decades. And by then we will all drop dead from cancers! What do we do now?
More to come.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The DEC has to respond to freedom of information law requests like any other state agency, don't they?

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps they should drill some test wells in Greenpoint where the Exxon spill actually happened.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a property owner in the area and have been privy to most of the results from the test wells on N11th st. I also did extensive drill testing for voc's (oil) under our building. It has all come up negative. The original test wells were done by the developer of Macarren park mews (MPM) to try to sue the condo on the corner of n 11th and roebling as the source of the contamination. He was looking for someone to help pay for his delays and clean up. He is a very connected gentleman. He got the DEC to start looking at the surrounding buildings as well. Several owners of buildings surrounding the MPM told me that site only had one 'registered' heating oil tank but actually had three. one of which was leaking oil for many years. This is just hear say (not that that has ever stoped GL from writing whole pieces based on less) but i do know that the results on the N 11th st. wells have come up clear as a mountain stream. Amazingly. The oil is from the MPM site. And it will now just sit there because the DEC didn't get involved earlier and force him to clean up his own mess.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when i spoke with a worker he said that no oil had come up out of the wells on N. 11th st. and that there was no contamination found under the building across from MPM. MPW, who knows - this issue is a moot point people will still buy those apts. regardless. bedford L sells.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have some familiarity with this kind of spill and DEC.

DEC is subject to FOIL but what data they release and when is subject to their interpretation.

DEC typically directs the monitoring and clean up, which is paid for by the responsible property owner. Until many test wells are dug and monitoring continues for some time, however, it is difficult to say where the spill comes from. If DEC can confirm the source, they can force a clean-up. It wont "just sit there" because a building is already over the site. If the oil sits on top of the aquifer, it can be pumped out.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting "Mr Property" owner. Because I have seen a DEC report earlier this summer that shows BTEX was present in one test well on Roebling. These DEC reports are very basic and do no give results as to the levels of contamination but if the report says BTEX, then please explain to me what it really means then. Benzene is a cause for cancer and should never be overlooked in any case. Benzene in one testwell of course does not mean there will be in all of them. We are forgetting the point here. Residents should have the right to know what is in their soil regardless!!! Especially where it can cost them a fortune to have air tests in their substructures(which developers neglect to do in NY). The DEC has obviously brushed over the subject for liability reasons. This is America don't forget. Land of the Sue your Ass!

6:08 PM  

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