Work to Begin on PCB Cleanup at Gabreski Airport

The site of the cleanup at the southeast corner of Gabreski Airport.
The site of the cleanup at the southeast corner of Gabreski Airport.

An area of soil contaminated with PCBs at the southeast corner of Gabreski Airport in Westhampton is slated to be cleaned up beginning this week, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The cleanup on the Suffolk County-owned property will be done by the county through the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program under the oversight of the DEC, according to a fact sheet released Monday by the DEC.

The site, which once housed a dog kennel and a small abandoned building associated with the Suffolk County Air Force Base, was first identified to have  PCB-contaminated soils in 1984. The buildings have already been removed. There is currently a half-acre excavation pit just south of the kennel.

The airport was built in 1943 by the federal government for use as an Army Air Force Base during World War II. It was given to Suffolk County after the war, but was reclaimed in 1951 during the Korean War. The property served as a U.S. Air Force Air Defense Command Base from 1960 to 1969, after which the property was released back to Suffolk County.

During deactivation of the base in the spring of 1970, the kennel area was used to bury office furniture and electrical distribution equipment, such as transformers and capacitors, which contain PCBs.

The property is within the Core Preservation Area of the Central Pine Barrens, and, while no redevelopment is currently proposed there, any future plans would be subject to Central Pine Barrens Commission review.

The project includes excavation and off-site disposal of soil containing PCBs in excess of 10 parts per million, and covering of soils containing in excess of 1 ppm of total PCBs following the excavation.

The 4,720-square-foot site will be excavated up to 4.5 feet below ground, fot a total volume of about 277 cubic yards.

Once the project is complete and a Final Engineering Report is accepted by the DEC, the county would receive a Certificate of Completion, allowing them to redevelop the site, with no liability to the state for the contamination, and would be eligible for tax credits to offset the cost of the cleanup and for redevelopment of the site.

More information is in the DEC’s data sheet on the project, online here, and project documents are available at the Westhampton Free Library.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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