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Wolff-Alport Chemical Company
Queens, New York

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Cecilia Echols (212) 637-3678

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The Wolff-Alport Chemical Company Superfund Site (Site) is located at 1125 to 1139 Irving Avenue and 1514 Cooper Avenue in Ridgewood, New York on the Brooklyn/Queens border. The Wolff-Alport Chemical Company operated at the Site from the 1920s until 1954. The company’s operations included the importing of monazite sand via a railroad spur behind the facility. The sand was processed in order to extract rare earth elements, which were sold to various commercial entities. Process residues of monazite sand contain radioactive materials, including thorium and, to a lesser degree, uranium, along with their decay products, such as radium. Process wastes were disposed of in the sewer system and/or buried on-site.

Recent investigations by city, state and federal agencies detected radioactivity above background levels within portions of the on-Site buildings, in soils beneath and around the former facility and above adjacent sidewalks, streets and sewers. A 2009-2010 investigation by the New York City Department of Design and Construction found that visibly-contaminated soil is typically located within the top four feet under the pavement/ground surface; there is one area where the visibly-contaminated soil is approximately eight to ten feet deep. In 2013, an investigation performed on behalf of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection detected radiological constituents above background concentrations in the sewer system at least as far away as the intersection of Irving Avenue and Halsey Street, approximately ¼ mile away from the Site.

To address the potential health risks associated with exposure to ionizing radiation, in 2013, the EPA installed a combination of lead, steel and concrete shielding within several on-Site buildings and along a portion of the Irving Avenue sidewalk adjacent to the Site and a radon mitigation system was installed in one building. The former rail spur behind the on-Site buildings was also covered with a layer of rock and clean fill in order to reduce exposure to waste material. Subsequent radiation surveys conducted by the EPA found that the shielding successfully reduced exposure rates by between 69 to 94%, while radon concentrations decreased by more than half. The Site was added to the National Priorities List on May 12, 2014.

Currently, the EPA is preparing to perform a remedial investigation to fully characterize the nature and extent of contamination at the Site. This investigation will involve several activities including collection of soil samples as deep as 30 feet below ground surface, installation of several monitoring wells and collection of groundwater samples, collection of sediment samples from Newtown Creek, radiation surveys and radon testing.


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