Tuesday, November 20, 2012
A little radon never hurt anyone
From DNA Info:
A past atomic bomb project site is finally receiving government attention to protect current workers and nearby residents after decades of elevated radiation levels at the building.
The former site of Wolff-Alport Chemical Company — which includes a giant warehouse that currently houses an auto-body shop and construction company and an abandoned lot — has been contaminated with the radioactive element thorium since the 1930s, government officials said. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency started to work on shielding the site on the Ridgewood-Bushwick border.
"We just got a referral from the state to perform shielding Aug. 31," said Eric Daly, the EPA's on-scene coordinator at Wolff-Alport, a site at 1125 — 1139 Irving Ave., where the city has known of radioactivity since it did a study in 2007.
A 2009 EPA survey determined there was “no immediate risk to people, but that more evaluation was needed,” the agency’s spokeswoman Mary Mears said.
Some work done by Wolff-Alport was performed under contract to the Atomic Energy Commission and the Manhattan Project, a research and development program that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II, according to EPA documents. The company, which operated from the 1920s to 1954, imported monazite sand on a railroad spur behind the facility. Wolff-Alport processed the monazite to extract rare earth elements, leaving thorium and to a lesser degree uranium byproducts, according to the EPA.
"These waste byproducts were disposed of into a nearby sewer and other wastes may have been buried onsite," according to an EPA document released last month.
The EPA, the city’s Department of Health, the state’s Department of Health, and the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation all were unable to explain why the EPA is taking sudden action at the site.