If you thought the only toxic garbage coming out of 50 Kent this year was that horrible 90s fest, you’re sorely mistaken. It turns out that the lot, perhaps most famous for housing our beloved Smorgasburg, “contains a ‘significant’ level of coal tar,” according to DNAinfo.
Long before Pauly Shore was making self-depreciating jokes about Encino Man in between sets from Smash Mouth and Coolio, 50 Kent was home to a gas plant that left behind a different kind of waste. Waste even more harmful to residents than half-baked, corporate-backed 90s nostalgia: coal tar, which has been known to increase risks of cancer, particularly in early childhood.
For someone who spends their entire lifetime living adjacent to coal-tar-sealcoated pavement, the average excess lifetime cancer risk is estimated to be 38 times higher than the urban background exposure. More than one-half of the risk occurs during the first 18 years of life, and most of it (84 percent) is from ingestion of soil.
The estimated lifetime cancer risk also is elevated for someone who spends just the first 6 years of their life living adjacent to coal-tar-sealed pavement—about 25 times higher than urban background exposure.
For the average individual who lives adjacent to coal-tar-sealed pavement for either their entire life or just the first 6 years, the excess lifetime cancer risk is estimated to be greater than 1 in 10,000. [USGS]
Of course, living in or around superfund sites is nothing new for us North Brooklyn residents, but it’s not exactly pleasant to learn that your Ramen Burger has been served up with a side of carcinogens.
The cleanup will be underway once 50 Kent’s summer events are over.
The cleanup process involves excavating 25-feet of contaminated soil, installing coal tar recovery wells to collect any remaining tar and disposing of gas holder foundations.
National Grid will perform the cleanup, with monitoring by the DEC, according to a fact sheet.
The process will be done under a temporary tent to control odors and dust.
“The goal of the cleanup action is to achieve cleanup levels that protect public health and the environment,” the DEC stated.
Once the cleanup is complete, the concrete base will be removed and the site will be covered by grass. It’s supposed to be transformed into a larger park.
The space is part of the larger park that the city pledged to create during a 2005 rezoning — a promise that has yet to be fulfilled.
Other parts of the contaminated area include the space where the former CitiStorage building stood before a massive fire earlier this year. Investigations are still ongoing to see the full environmental remediation needed at that space.
Cleanup for 50 Kent Ave. is part of the Parks Department’s long-term redevelopment plan, according to the DEC.
Residents interested in hearing more about the cleanup process can attend a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bushwick Inlet Headquarters, located at Kent Ave. and North Ninth Street.
Smorgasburg runs through November 21.