BROOKLYN, N.Y. — A civil environmental lawsuit stemming from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) cleanup at the Stanton Cleaners Area Groundwater Contamination Site in Great Neck, N.Y., has been settled, authorities report.
The lawsuit was brought against the estate of Lillion Wiesner, John P. Maffei, and the property at 110 Cutter Mill Road in Great Neck, where hazardous substances were disposed of by former dry cleaning operations, according to Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Judith A. Enck, regional administrator, EPA Region 2.
The complaint alleged the Wiesner estate was liable for EPA's response costs under the “Superfund law” as a current and past owner at the time of disposal of hazardous substances. Maffei was liable, authorities assert, because he is a de facto current and past owner of the property.
Maffei, individually and as owner of Executeam Corp., held long-term leases to the property. He subleased it to Stanton Cleaners Inc. to operate a dry cleaning business there. Past disposal practices of the dry cleaning operations at the site caused the indoor air, soil, and groundwater at and near the property to become contaminated with perchloroethylene (perc).
EPA installed soil vapor extraction systems to treat soil and contamination; a sub-slab ventilation system at a building at an adjacent property to prevent contaminated vapors from entering; a groundwater collection, treatment, and disposal system; and it disposed of underground storage tanks and their contents.
The settlement requires, among other things, that defendants pay $756,000 in cash to the United States, and that the Wiesner estate sell the property in accordance with a formula that is expected to result in payment of an additional $2 million.
“This settlement reflects the ongoing commitment of this office to the elimination of toxic waste sites that can threaten human health and safety,” says Lynch. “This office will continue to hold those responsible for causing or contributing to hazardous waste sites accountable under the law.”
“Chemicals like (perc) can cause serious health effects and EPA took action to reduce the risks posed by chemicals at this site, including treating of over 270 million gallons of contaminated ground water, installing systems to take vapors out of the soil that can get into buildings and installing a system in a building where vapors were getting in,” says EPA Regional Administrator Enck. “With this settlement, the parties responsible for the pollution are being held accountable for their part in the contamination.”
The settlement was subject to a 30-day public comment period, during which no comments were received.