Ridgewood Radioactive Site On Superfund List

BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

What has long been considered a dangerous area has officially been declared a radioactive site by the United States.

The Former Wolff-Alport company site in Ridgewood has been added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list, officials announced last week.

The designation means that the national agency can continue its work on removing hazardous materials found at the site, while deciding who will pay for the cleanup.

The site was used by the federal government from 1920 until 1954, processing chemicals like monazite sand. The monazite contains a radioactive chemical called thorium, which the federal government used to make atomic bombs as part of the Manhattan Project.  There is about six to eight percent of the chemical at the site, according to the EPA. Long-time exposure to the chemical increases the risk of getting cancer.

The EPA has been working in the area, located at 1514 Cooper Ave. and 1125 to 1139 Irving Ave., since 2012, sealing up thorium.

During a conference call with reporters, Judith Enck, the EPA Regional Administrator, said although there are businesses based near where the radiation is, they will not interfere with them as they continue their work.

“Our goal is to be the least destructive to the businesses as possible, but we got to get in there and literally do some digging,” she said.

Some of the establishments in that area include a deli and a car manufacturing shop.

Enck said their next step is to understand the nature and extent of the contamination and take steps to remove it completely. Currently, workers have been placing lead sheets underground to reduce potential exposure.

She added that, in addition to the clean up, the agency will research to determine which company will pay for the radiation clean up done by the EPA.

Other work to be done there, according to Enck, includes further investigating the school/day care center near the area and some sewers that run through the site as well.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com, or @luisgronda.