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Coalition Letter Request That Governor Hochul Help Prevent Parkinson's disease in New York By Remediating All Trichloroethylene (TCE) Environmental Health Hazards In Strict Compliance With Comprehensive State Cleanup Requirements



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The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York
The State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Greetings:

We, the undersigned, write respectfully to request that you take immediate action to help prevent Parkinson's disease in New York by remediating all Trichloroethylene (TCE) toxic sites in strict compliance with comprehensive cleanup requirements pursuant to Article 27, Title 14 of the Environmental Conservation Law and other State regulatory standards.

We specifically ask you to enforce the State mandate to restore contaminated sites to "pre-disposal conditions, to the extent feasible" pursuant to 6 NYCRR (New York Codes, Rules and Regulations) PART 375-2.8 (a).

As documented below, your administration’s failure to enforce these strict toxic remediation requirements is imperiling public health as New Yorkers become afflicted with deadly diseases that are potentially preventable, notably Parkinson’s.

TCE is Scientifically Documented to be Causally-Associated With Up to a 500% Increase in Parkinson’s Risk

For more than a century TCE was widely used as a degreasing agent, chemical intermediate and ingredient in hundreds of consumer products. As a result, TCE is a virtually ubiquitous environmental contaminant all over New York.

See: Trichloroethylene

Parkinson's was long thought to be idiopathic, or associated with unknown causes, but TCE is documented in the scientific literature to be causally associated with up to a 500% increase in Parkinson's risk. This incurable and debilitating ailment is America's fastest growing neurodegenerative malady.

More than 21,000 New Yorkers died of Parkinson's in the last 20 years. This terrible toll is very likely due, at least in part, to New York's failure to eliminate statewide TCE air, land and water pollution hazards.

See: Trichloroethylene/Parkinson's Information

Request That You Prevent Parkinson's in New York By Strictly Enforcing TCE Environmental Cleanup Requirements

Since Parkinson's has no cure, it is imperative to prevent TCE environmental exposures to help make sure New Yorkers do not become afflicted with the ailment. The logic of this novel strategy is irrefutable, but this critical public health protection policy has never been comprehensively implemented anywhere in the nation.

As New York's Chief Executive, you have a duty to safeguard our state's public health and environment by strictly enforcing all toxic cleanup requirements. Yet, your Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Health (DOH) have failed for decades to clean up contaminated TCE sites that cause Soil Vapor Intrusion (SVI) indoor air quality hazards, imperil critical drinking water supply sources and pollute every major community in our state. We request that you resolve this problem without further delay.

Gowanus Canal Area in Brooklyn, NY Exemplifies Statewide TCE Hazards

The full scope of New York's TCE tragedy is just beginning to come to light in the Gowanus Canal Area of Brooklyn, NY. Recent investigations reveal that hundreds of thousands of local residents were exposed without their knowledge to high levels of TCE in the indoor air of homes and buildings on and near approximately 50 toxic sites that were never fully investigated or cleaned up even though they are being redeveloped as large-scale housing/commercial projects.

The Gowanus Canal Area is undergoing massive redevelopment and likely has more “Brownfield” projects than any other area in New York State. Brownfields are polluted properties that are redeveloped using tax incentives.

For the last 20 years DEC and DOH routinely approved "restricted residential" Brownfield projects that permit homes, schools and businesses to be built on TCE-polluted sites that developers "mitigate" instead of comprehensively remediating. This ill-conceived program threatens the long-term health of residents, pollutes surrounding areas and contaminates critical natural resources.

Shockingly High TCE Levels in Indoor Air Exceed the State Guideline by Up to 450-Fold

TCE public health hazards are exemplified by extraordinarily high-level TCE soil vapor contamination recently identified on and around Brownfield sites near Union, Nevins and President Streets in the Gowanus Canal Area. These hazards were brought to light by an environmental database firm called Toxics Targeting, working with local residents and media.

In March 2023, it was revealed that TCE had been detected two years earlier at 43 micrograms/meter3 in the indoor air of a popular club at 514 Union Street. TCE evidently migrated into the building through foundation cracks, floor drains or utility conduit openings involving a process called, “soil vapor intrusion” (SVI) that is similar to the way radon gas enters structures.

The DOH TCE indoor air guideline is two micrograms/meter3 and the “immediate action level” is 20 micrograms/ meter3. The public was never alerted to the presence of TCE in the club until the pollution received media coverage.

High-level TCE soil, groundwater and soil vapor contamination documented on and around the site has never been comprehensively remediated even though the property is part of a large Brownfield redevelopment project.

Extraordinarily high TCE levels were identified in Soil Vapor under Union Street up to 86,000 micrograms/meter3.

See: 473 President St Brooklyn Site: Figure 5 Off-Site Soil Vapor VOC Detections

This prompted State environmental and health authorities to try to determine if TCE SVI contaminated indoor air at 33 nearby properties.

The highest level of TCE in indoor air contamination reportedly was 900 micrograms/meter3 very likely at 543 Union Street, a large building with approximately 25 units. This is more than 450-fold the TCE indoor air guideline and 45-fold the TCE "immediate action level."


See: Gowanus Canal Area Trichloroethylene Indoor Air Monitoring Results

Extensive indoor air testing results document extraordinarily high TCE indoor air contamination throughout 543 Union Street. These analytical results were withheld from public release despite multiple Freedom of Information Law requests.

According to government information released in 2/24, a permanent solution reportedly has not been established to reduce TCE in indoor air below the two microgram/meter3 indoor air guideline at the location.

543 Union St, Brooklyn, NY/NYS DOH Trichloroethylene Indoor Air Monitoring Results (3/23-7/23)
543 Union St Community Update REMOVAL December 2023

The initial SVI investigation documents that at least six properties reportedly require indoor air contamination mitigation. The locations of these properties, however, have not been publicly disclosed.

Unprecedented SVI Investigation Now Underway in the Entire Gowanus Canal Area

Due to the shockingly high TCE indoor air contamination findings documented near Union, Nevins and President Streets, DEC and DOH launched an unprecedented investigation of SVI hazards throughout the entire Gowanus Canal Area.

This constitutes the largest SVI public health hazard investigation ever undertaken in New York State and likely the nation as a whole. The scope of the TCE threat covers more than 100 city blocks.

To date, only about 100 properties have reportedly been monitored for Soil Vapor Intrusion out of the 632 properties proposed for inclusion in Phase I of the investigation.

See: Gowanus Canal SVI Study Initial Investigation Area Map

Request That You Investigate Soil Vapor Intrusion Hazards Within a Minimum of 1,000 Feet of All Brownfields and Other Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites in New York State

Given the inadequacies of your administration’s Gowanus Canal Area SVI Investigation, it must be immediately expanded to require mandatory indoor air monitoring for TCE, other chlorinated solvents and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and 1,4-Dioxane "emerging contaminants" in all homes, schools, businesses and other structures within a minimum of 1,000 feet of each and every Brownfield and Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site in the Gowanus Canal Study Area. The investigation must be completed within two years and all costs must be borne by responsible parties, not New York State taxpayers.

Because Brownfields and Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites in the Gowanus Canal Area were routinely inadequately remediated based on the same "restricted residential" protocol permitted all over New York for the last 20 years, we request that you require the SVI Investigation to be expanded statewide to include all Brownfields and Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites. This investigation must be completed within two years with all costs borne by responsible parties.

Request That You Halt All Brownfield Project Approvals in New York State

Until the shortcomings of New York's Brownfield program have been fully assessed and all applicable regulatory cleanup requirements are strictly enforced, we request that you require DEC and DOH to halt approvals for Brownfield toxic site developments. We also request that earlier Brownfield approvals be required to fulfill all applicable regulatory requirements. This strict enforcement policy has never been implemented since the State Brownfield law was enacted 20 years ago.

Landmark 514 Union Street Decision

On May 30, 2024, DEC and DOH declared that 514 Union Street poses “a significant threat to public health or the environment.” The agencies will require that the ”completed cleanup will make the site fully protective of public health and the environment.”

This fulfills a request submitted by Toxics Targeting to reject a proposed Interim Remedial Measure that would not safeguard public health from extensive Trichloroethylene contamination at the site.

See: How DEC's Shockingly Inadequate 12/22 Interim Remedial Action Proposal for 514 Union Street Was Rejected in Order to Require a Comprehensive Toxic Site Cleanup to Halt a "Significant Threat to Public Health or the Environment." (5/30/24)

New York's TCE Toxic Site Legacy Must Be Comprehensively Investigated and Remediated

The landmark 514 Union Street investigation and remediation decision must be replicated on a statewide basis because DEC and DOH routinely failed to enforce strict cleanup standards at TCE sites all over New York for decades. This lack of regulatory enforcement is unacceptable.

New York's TCE Sites Have Not Been Comprehensively Remediated Based on DEC's Own Data

This conclusion is beyond dispute based on DEC's own data. Due to the scale of New York's lax regulatory enforcement, public health is imperiled.

See: Selected Trichloroethylene (TCE) Public Health and Environmental Threats That Reportedly Do Not Meet All Cleanup Requirements in Ithaca, Endicott, Auburn, Hillcrest, Rochester, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Hyde Park, Eastchester, Orchard Park, etc.

See: Statewide Maps and List of Reported Trichloroethylene (TCE) Sites In New York State Not Meeting All Applicable Standards

See: New York TCE Site List in PDF format

New York's Strict Toxic Cleanup Requirements Must Be Enforced

New York's laws and regulations require comprehensive cleanups that could help prevent Parkinson's and other deadly environmentally induced ailments. Those safeguards are largely meaningless due to New York's lack of strict regulatory enforcement.

For example, according to State Environmental Remediation Program requirements codified in 6 NYCRR (New York Codes, Rules and Regulations) PART 375-2.8 (a),

"The goal of the remedial program for a specific site is to restore that site to pre-disposal conditions (emphasis added), to the extent feasible."

According to Section 171 of the New York Navigation Law regarding uncontrolled releases of petroleum and hazardous substances,

"It is the purpose of this article to ensure a clean environment and healthy economy for the state by preventing the unregulated discharge of petroleum which may result in damage to lands, waters or natural resources of the state by authorizing the department of environmental conservation to respond quickly to such discharges and effect prompt cleanup and removal of such discharges (emphasis added), giving first priority to minimizing environmental damage, and by providing for liability for damage sustained within the state as a result of such discharges."

Conclusion

Millions of New Yorkers are routinely exposed to TCE because DEC and DOH fail to remediate TCE contamination hazards. Parkinson's victims usually never know that environmental TCE exposures may have impacted their health.

You have proposed to build 800,000 housing units across New York in the coming decade, including through the use of Brownfield tax benefits. It would be irresponsible to permit any of those projects to be developed on inadequately remediated Brownfields and other toxic sites that threaten public health with TCE contamination.

Unfortunately, this is precisely what your administration is permitting in Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal Area, in Ithaca, NY and other communities across New York where public health concerns recently focused intense attention on TCE soil vapor intruding into homes and buildings from numerous Brownfield sites that were never comprehensively remediated.

In the years to come, additional contamination concerns will surely come to light as inadequate cleanup problems are further investigated. As Governor of New York, you are responsible for resolving this problem.

It is imperative that our state adopt the strict cleanup enforcement policy proposed herein. If you implement that policy, you could set a national standard for effective public health protection that could be replicated from coast-to-coast to help prevent Parkinson's.

With all due respect, if you fail to adopt that policy, you would be directly responsible for endangering New York's public health and environment and must be held strictly accountable.

We trust that you will find our respectful request self-explanatory. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can answer any questions or otherwise assist you. We request a personal meeting at your earliest convenience to discuss how your administration must prevent Parkinson's and other environmental health hazards by eliminating TCE exposures.

Very truly yours,

Walter Hang

cc: Hon. Charles Schumer
Hon. Kirsten Gillibrand
Hon. Deborah Glick
Hon. Members of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee
Hon. Pete Harckham
Hon. Members of the State Senate Environmental Conservation Committee
Hon. Eric Adams
Hon. Nydia Velázquez
Hon. Antonio Reynoso
Hon. Jo Anne Simon
Hon. Jabari Brisport
Hon. Shahana Hanif
Hon. Lisa Garcia
Hon. Members of the New York City Council
Hon. James V. McDonald M.D.
Hon. Sean Mahar
Hon. Members of the Ithaca Common Council
Hon. Members of the Rochester City Council

Total Signatory Count: 77

Walter Hang
215 N. Cayuga Street
Ithaca, NY
Terrence Cuddy
City Councilor
City of Auburn
133 S. Hoopes Ave.
Auburn, NY
James Giannettino, Jr
Mayor
City of Auburn
42 Osborne Street
Auburn, NY
A.K. Kelly
257 Carroll Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Glenn Kelly
Carroll Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Kindra Bell
216 Queen St.
Ithaca, NY
Robin Ginsburg
136 N 3rd St Apt 3
BROOKLYN, NY
Luke Fortunato
16 Mountainside Drive
Newton, NJ
Rosie Hooegood
305 6th St, Apt 3
Brooklyn, NY
Adelaide Gomer
president
Park Foundation
513 Wyckoff Road
Ithaca, New York
Fred Wilcox
professor
150 West Court
Ithaca, New York
Anousha Radjy
50 1st Street, Apt 2
Brooklyn, New York
Zahy Atme
NA
NA
50 1st street unit 2
Brooklyn, NY
Cristina Botero
363 Bond Street
Brooklyn, NY
Alex Pedraza
363 Bond Street
Brooklyn, NY
Bryan Caplin
257 Hoyt Street
Brooklyn, New York
Daniel Bates
496 President St
Brooklyn, NY
Jonathan Plotkin
711 N Tioga St
Ithaca, New York
Joel Chaffee
424 west 154th st
new york, NY
Lydian Green
4121 South St. Ext.
Trumansburg, New York
Steven Cornelius
144 Hidden Pines Dr
Newfield, NY
Julie Parisi
36 Purdy Hollow Rd
Woodstock, NY
Devin Henry
90 W University St
Alfred, NY
Laurie Goodhart
PO Box 545
Cambridge , NY
Nancy Sharpe
216 6TH ST
LIVERPOOL, NY
Delores Bennett
RN
11 Martin Brook St.
Unadilla, NY
Elaine Livingston
Former Chemist for IBM 1981-1994
Former IBM Endicott
1403 Glenwood Road
Vestal, NY
Joseph Quirk
147 Avenue A #2R
New York, New York
Karen Stamm
366 Broadway, 11B
New York, NY
Kyllikki Inman
110 Halcyon Hill
Ithaca, NY
Lynn Cahill-Hoy
MSN, ANP-C, CDCES
Family Care Medical Group
Marcellus, NY
Anna Gibson
311 Bailor Rd
Brooktondale, NY
David Mitchell
402 Esty Street
Ithaca, New York
Eileen Driscoll
125 valleyview rd
Ithaca, Ny
Richard Kellman
429 Arnold Road
Lisle, NY
Laurence Kirby
36 Purdy Hollow
Woodstock, NY`
Katherine Funk
2789 Forest Hill Drive
Corning, NY
Maria Studer
127 Springtime Ln W
Levittown, NY
Mary OConnor
119 Middaugh Road
Brooktondale, NY
Elaine Sperbecek
618 E Monroe street
Little Falls, New York
Diane Stein
40 Harrison Street Apt. 15A
New York , NY
Deborah Kahkejian
398 State Route 69
Williamstown , NY
Devon Zdatny
3 Sterlington Rd
Sloatsburg, New York
Retired
39 Ferguson Road
Dryden, NY
Michael Gorr
8 Deer Run
Skaneateles, New York
Rolf Aschenbrenner
366 Broadway
New York, NY
Ellen Schmidt
8 Genung Cir
Ithaca, NY
Oskar Schmidt
8 Genung Circle
Ithaca, NY
Laura Fennimore
110 Half Moon Rd
Highland, NY
E Perrone
4 Brandon rd
Brewster, NY

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