220 3rd St and 360 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215


brownfield VOCs "vapor intrusion"

Whole Foods, Levanic Inc., and Richard Kowalski
Site Description[1]
The former Whole Foods site is located in an urban portion of Kings County, NY. The 2.155-acre site is on the southern side of 3rd Street, approximately 30-feet west of the 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue intersection. The site is bordered on the south by 4th Street Basin (Gowanus Canal), on the north by 3rd Street, on the west by privately owned real property, and on the east by 3rd Avenue. The closest residential area is believed to be on 4th Avenue. The site formerly consisted of several interconnected buildings and an open rear area that bordered the Gowanus Canal. It is zoned as medium manufacturing in a commercial area. The buildings prior uses that appear to have led to possible contamination include a coal yard, oil company, and junkyard and auto repair business. All buildings have been demolished. A Brownfield Cleanup Agreement (BCA) was executed on April 25, 2005. A Remedial Work Plan (RWP) was approved in May 2007 calling for additional soil removal, capping of residual contamination, groundwater monitoring and institutional controls. As of this update, a request to discharge wastewater (e.g., groundwater, de-watering effluent, and storm water runoff) in connection to the implementation of the approved work plan is under review by the DEC.

Site History[2] 
The industrial history of this specific block can be traced back more then 125 years, to when it was the "five-acre factory complex" of the New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company, according to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Only one building from the Coignet complex has survived over the decades - a "pioneering example of concrete construction in the United States" that stands at the corner of 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue. Commonly known as the Coignet Stone Building, this landmarked structure dates back to 1872. Today, it is the only building on the block. Though reportedly not owned by Whole Foods, its fortunes have been closely tied to the fate of their store.

Site Environmental Assessment
The primary contaminants of concern at the site known at this time include volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds (specifically PAHs), and metals. Contamination is currently present on the site as a result of both releases of petroleum compounds and placement of historic fill. Exceedances of standard, criteria, and guidance in the soils include cPAHs (max. 28.9 ppm), lead (max. 1,370 ppm), mercury (max. 1.1 ppm), and cadmium (max. 1.9 ppm). Exceedances of standards, criteria, and guidance in the groundwater include benzene (max. 66 ppb), acenaphthene (max. 24 ppb), phenol (max. 5 ppb), and lead (max. 27.5 ppb). Two interim remedial measures (IRMs) were completed on the site in 2005 to eliminate source/release areas including the removal of four underground storage tanks and associated piping and vent lines; a septic tank and associated cesspool; two dry wells; free product; and impacted soils. The IRM has been completed and the final IRM report approved. Post-IRM laboratory data results revealed a significant decrease in soil/groundwater contamination. Potential for exposure to on-site/off-site receptors is minimal. Site is currently fenced with restricted public access. Groundwater is not a source of drinking water. Implementation of the accepted remedial proposal remedy will reduce the potential for future exposures. Data collected during the remedial investigation did not show evidence that contamination at the site is impacting or will impact the Gowanus canal. The site does not present a significant threat to public health and/or the environment.

Site Health Assessment
The remedial investigation documented that subsurface soils and groundwater are contaminated with volatile organic compounds, semi volatile organic compounds, and chlorinated solvents. Exposures via drinking water are not expected because this mixed industrial/residential neighborhood is served by public water. The property owner has performed interim remedial measures that removed underground storage tanks and most of the contaminated soils. The new building proposed for the site will include a vapor barrier and subslab depressurization system to prevent exposures via vapor intrusion. Additionally, the site will be capped with asphalt and managed through the site management plan which minimizes the potential for direct contact with residual soil contamination.

Contaminants of Concern
Type of Waste Quantity

  1. DEC Environmental Site Remediation Database.  Site Name: "Whole Foods Site".
  2. Nathan Kensinger Photography.  "The Whole Foods Lot".  Accessed 2/27/2010.

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