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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:55 pm    Post subject: SCHUMER, MCMAHON ANNOUNCE MAJOR CLEAN UP ON SI
From Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:00 am to Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:59 am (included)
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November 17, 2009


Schumer, McMahon Wrote to EPA In September Demanding Immediate Action To Address Dangerous Lead Contamination on North Shore

EPA Found Levels of Lead Higher Than EPA Approved Level, Leaving Community, Especially Children, At Risk of Lead Poisoning

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Congressman Michael E. McMahon announced that the EPA has heeded their calls to take action and committed $100,000 to the North Shore of Staten Island, which has been selected as an Environmental Justice Showcase Community. In September, Schumer and McMahon wrote to the EPA urging them to clean up the former Sedutto’s site on the North Shore, which is contaminated with lead. Lead is a potent neurotoxin that causes permanent neurological damage, especially in children.

The selected Environmental Justice Showcase Communities will use collaborative, community-based approaches to improve public health and the environment. EPA will provide $100,000 per each of the 10 projects to help address concerns in communities disproportionately exposed to environmental risks. These demonstration projects will test and share information on different approaches to increase EPA’s ability to achieve environmental results in communities. On Staten Island, EPA will work with the North Shore of Staten Island, a former industrial community that now contains many abandoned, contaminated, and regulated properties along the waterfront. This neighborhood has seen an increase in the number of kids with elevated lead levels in their blood. EPA, in consultation with key community members and state and local health agencies will develop a community-based health strategy for the area. The North Shore of Staten Island is the only community in New York to receive this EPA grant.

“The EPA taking action and committing funds to the North Shore of Staten Island is a real win in our fight to protect our children and get the lead out of the former Sedutto’s site and the entire community,” Schumer said. “Lead poisoning has the potential to rob our children of their future and we have to do everything in our power to ensure Staten Island residents are protected from this contamination. With this help from the EPA, we can now take the essential forward steps to provide Staten Island with the tools necessary to clean up their environmental burdens and make the community a healthier place.”

"There is no community more deserving to be selected as an Environmental Justice Showcase Community than the North Shore of Staten Island and I am so pleased that the EPA recognized this," said Rep. McMahon. "The lead contamination on the North Shore has gone unattended for too long. My staff has been working with the EPA and researching various grants available to get the clean-up process moving. These funds provided by the EPA is just an initial step towards making the North Shore a vibrant and healthy community free of pollutants and contamination."

From 1839 to 1898, 2000 Richmond Terrance was used by John Jewett & Sons White Lead Company to manufacture white lead. National Lead Industries purchased the business and subsequently operated at that location until a major fire destroyed the plant’s main building and storage house in the 1920’s. Between 1949 and 1990, various businesses operated at the location, including the Sedutto’s Ice Cream Factory. However, after several fires at the site in the 1990’s, the site was cleared in 2000. Since that time, the site has been used as a waste transfer location, as well as a construction site for the New York City Department of Environmental Protections and the New York City Department of Design and Construction.

Recent studies found alarmingly high levels of lead contamination both at the site itself and in the surrounding areas. EPA conducted testing from the backyards of homes closest to the site and from the grassy areas on sidewalks in a six-block area closest to the site. EPA found an average lead concentration of 549 parts per million (ppm) in the top soil of the backgrounds sampled. This level of lead is higher than the EPA screening level of 400 ppm in residential high use bare soil areas. However, the lead concentrations in the six-block area closet to the site is 666 ppm, with the lead in the background area is 788 ppm.

Lead exposure can lead to learning disabilities, low IQ, behavioral disorders and kidney disease. Schumer and McMahon said that people should not be exposed to such threats. As a result, in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson dated September 14, 2009, Schumer and McMahon said that due to the great concern not only to the people who are being exposed to the lead, but for all of Staten Island, EPA must immediately take steps to protect the public health, welfare and the environment of the people of Staten Island. They also demanded the EPA address the serious and known threat to public health with swift action to not only the former National Lead Factory site, but all areas in the surrounding community that have been contaminated with toxic lead.

Said Beryl A. Thurman, Executive Director and President of the North Shore Waterfront Conservancy of Staten Island, Inc.: “On behalf of The North Shore Waterfront Conservancy of Staten Island, Inc., we look forward to working with the EPA. We would like to thank Administrator Lisa Jackson and her staff for choosing Staten Island's north shore as one of the EPA's Environmental Justice Showcase Communities. NSWCSI has always believed in the north shore of Staten Island. These communities started out with so much energy, fellowship and love of life. Unfortunately along the way they lost themselves in the haze of what was considered progress. These are waterfront communities and their history and their sense of who they are, is connected to their waterfront. NSWCSI is here to help rebuild that sense of community and with the help of the EPA and officials to eliminate as much of the toxins as we can from our environment. It is essential to make Staten Island's north shore environmental justice communities, waterfront and surrounding waterways clean, safe and healthy for residents.”

Since 1994, EPA has provided more than $32 million in general funding to more than 1,100 community-based organizations through the Environmental Justice Showcase Communities project.
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