Real estate giant Tishman Speyer plans to turn a contaminated Long Island City site into a new high-rise residential development with ground-floor retail space. But first, the company must reckon with the site’s toxic legacy.

Located at 28-10 Jackson Ave. near Queens Plaza, the property was once part of a larger complex owned by the West Chemical Company. The site had been used to store chemicals needed to make products like floor waxes and industrial cleaners.

ýccording to documents filed with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, periodic spills of an ingredient in cleaning products called creosote – exposure to which may result in rashes, kidney and liver problems, and even cancer — had been reported, with one larger spill occurring in 1950. Fuel oils also contaminate parts of the property.

The state is currently considering whether to allow TST LIC Development — a limited liability company affiliated with Tishman Speyer — to rehabilitate the property under the Brownfield Cleanup Program.

The state program encourages the voluntary cleanup of contaminated properties by providing liability relief and offering funding for the investigation and remediation of the sites, in addition to post-construction tax breaks to attract private developers.

A brownfield is defined as any property that is difficult to reuse or redevelop because of the presence or potential presence of contamination. Left untreated, brownfields can become serious health risks to the local community. For that reason, the state imposes a relatively strict cleanup standard on the redevelopment of these areas.

Tishman Speyer’s plan calls for the removal of all accessible contaminated soils by excavating the entire half-acre site to a depth of 16 feet, deeper in areas where there is greater contamination.

Dorothy Morehead, chairwoman of Community Board 2’s environmental committee, said she favors brownfield redevelopment, so long as it is for “appropriate uses. You certainly don’t want a playground on the site.”

Morehead added that any commercial or residential use would be fine, as long as proper environmental barriers are in place to separate residents from any remnants of contamination.

The full draft of the remedial work plan is available to the public at the Queens Library’s Court Square branch at 25-01 Jackson Ave.

The Department of Environmental Conservation encourages the comments and questions of the general public. The comment period began on May 2 and will continue through June 18. Questions should be addressed to Chris Milack at the DEC. He can be reached by mail at 625 Broadway, Albany, NY, 12233, or by phone at (888) 212-9586.

For public health-related questions, contact Christopher Doroski at the state’s Department of Health. His mailing information is 547 River St., Troy, NY, 12180 and his phone number is (800) 458-1158, ext. 27860.


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