Site Description The Site is a railroad maintenance and storage facility that currently encompasses approximately 133 acres. Newtown Creek, which defines the border between Queens and Kings Counties, is located less than 0.5 mile south of the western portion of the Site. The Site is bordered by commercial/residential properties, with Northern Boulevard located to the north, 42nd Place located to the east, Thompson Avenue to the west, and Skillman Avenue located to the south. The fill is predominantly comprised of reworked glacial deposits (unstratified sand, silt, clay and gravel) and railroad ballast, with lesser amounts of ash, cinders and construction debris. With the exception of paved areas, land occupied by buildings, and vegetated areas, the railroad ballast is ubiquitous at the land surface throughout the Site. Groundwater beneath the Site (including OU 4) occurs in fill deposits, wetlands, or the Upper Pleistocene glacial deposits. The saturated Upper Pleistocene deposits comprise the Upper Glacial aquifer. The depth to groundwater across OU-4 varies from one to fifteen feet below ground surface. Groundwater within the shallow deposits flows predominantly west across the Site. However, groundwater between Queens Boulevard and Honeywell Street flows northerly and northwesterly toward the buried flow path of the Dutch Kills Creek and/or East River.
In the deeper deposits, groundwater predominantly flows west across the Site. Operable Unit (OU) No. 4 consists of the soil above the water table (unsaturated zone) at the Site, excluding OU-1, OU-2, and OU-3. OU-4 comprises 120 of the total 133 acres. An operable unit represents a portion of the site remedy that for technical or administrative reasons can be addressed separately to eliminate or mitigate a release, threat of release or exposure pathway resulting from the site contamination. The remaining operable units for this site are: • OU-1: Soil above the water table within the footprint of the High Speed Trainset Facility Service and Inspection (HSTF S&I) Building. A Record Of Decision (ROD) was issued for OU-1 in August 1997, and the remedial work was completed in April 1998. • OU-2: Soil above the water table within the footprint of the HSTF S&I Building ancillary structures. A No Further Action ROD was issued for OU-2 in November 1997. • OU-3: Soil and separate phase petroleum hydrocarbon accumulation above the water table and soil below the water table within 8 acres in the north central portion of the Site. A ROD was issued for OU-3 in March 2007. Remediation is ongoing. • OU-5: Sewer system (water and sediment) beneath the Site. The RI is ongoing. • OU-6: Saturated soil and the groundwater beneath the Site. The RI is ongoing. Past releases of PCBs is likely attributable to losses from and maintenance of train-mounted transformers over time. Transformers were also mounted on the Honeywell Street Bridge. Specific locations, dates, or quantities of PCB releases are not known. Usage of PCB-containing equipment was significantly more predominant by predecessor railroads than by Amtrak. In the past, coal fired locomotives, coal fired boilers, and onsite incinerators were widely used for railroad operations. These activities generated significant amounts of cinders and coal ash as a waste byproduct. Prior to Amtrak's ownership of the Site, these cinders and ash were used from time to time as fill material throughout OU 4 and are still present at the Site today. Cinders and ash are known to contain high levels of lead and semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs), primarily cPAHs. In addition to the fill activities, the presence of lead is attributed to maintenance of the four New York City bridges that span the site. The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) is planning to construct tunnels through the Yard as part of its East Side Access (ESA) project. Impacts, if any, of the proposed construction are being addressed through the permit process. The Record of Decision for OU-4 was completed in March 2009. Site Environmental Assessment Remedial investigations have been conducted in multiple phases under NYSDEC oversight pursuant to a consent order. Seventeen specific areas of concern (AOC) were identified. PCBs, cPAHs (including areas of non-aqueous phase liquid, or NAPL), and lead are the main site-related contaminants of concern. Exceedances of standards, criteria, and guidance include PCBs, metals (primarily lead), and SVOCs/cPAHs for soil; and metals and SVOCs for groundwater. The site poses an environmental threat associated with the potential impacts of contaminants to groundwater from soils impacted with the COCs. There are no wetlands or other exposure pathways to fish and wildlife receptors in OU-4. Off-site related impacts to groundwater will be addressed as part of the ongoing OU-6 RI. The site has secured access.
Site Health Assessment Groundwater in the area of the site is not used as a source of potable water. Access to the site is controlled, preventing trespassers from coming in contact with contaminated soils.