Monday, May 10, 2010

PCBs found in Red Hook park

From the NY Post:

The grassy fields of a park in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn are contaminated with PCBs at a level 110 times what New York environmental agencies consider safe, according to court records filed in a lawsuit by New York and six other states against bankrupt Chemtura Corp.

Linked to liver cancer, low birth weight and loss of motor skills, PCBs pose a threat to park visitors and nearby residents, said Judith Schreiber, chief scientist in the State Attorney General's Environmental Bureau.

State and city health and environmental agencies declined to comment or said they weren't aware of the risks at the 58-acre park, a popular spot for soccer games and family picnics.

Chemtura has resisted demands by the state environmental bureau that it clean up contamination from a leak at its plant, which abuts the park.

"Contamination at the site and in or near the recreation area is at unacceptable levels from a human-exposure perspective," Schreiber wrote in an April 22 affidavit in Manhattan federal court.

Gentrification of the area over the last 15 years has coincided with the opening of large retail outlets, including an Ikea furniture store and a Fairway supermarket, a passenger cruise-ship terminal, cafes and wine stores.

With the neighborhood's resurgence, use of the contaminated park has increased. Red Hook Park hosts soccer tournaments and food vendors that draw large crowds.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, have been banned since 1979. The chemical doesn't break down easily, building up in human and animal tissue, as well as in food chains.

Regulators have fought for a decade with Chemtura and the plant's former owner, Crompton Corp., which merged with another firm in 2005 to form the now-bankrupt company.

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