Bowing to a flurry of community complaints about a strong gasoline smell coming from the white tent a block away from a just-opened ballfield at 47th Avenue and 5th Street, the DEC agreed last week to run the filtration system 24/7, to close the air vents and to better insulate the trucks carrying out the toxic debris.
DEC calls strong odors nuisance, not dangerous
But calls for long-term health testing at the site went unanswered by both the DEC and the state Department of Health. “The discomfort from fumes is not just a minor annoyance, it is a health concern leaving residents fearful of unknown long-term negative health effects,” said Joseph Conley, chairman of Community Board 2.
To date, the DEC has not installed any of its own air quality monitors at the Queens West site.
Lorence Long, who lives a block away from the site on 46th Road, disputed the state’s clean bill of health for the site. “With people complaining about nausea and breathing problems, the real question is what it’s doing to our lungs long term,” he said.
Since the contractor took steps to keep fumes from leaving the site’s circus-like tent last Tuesday, Long reported less of the sickening odor in his neighborhood.
“It’s much better now,” he said. “But I don’t know why they could not do it before.”