For two decades, Alberto Rodriguez has worked in the same cavernous garage along the border between Queens and Brooklyn, surrounded by the clang of metal and the rumbling of engines awaiting repair.
It turns out that he has also been toiling amid potentially dangerous levels of radiation.
Mr. Rodriguez’s shop, Los Primos Auto Repair and Sale, is one of six businesses at the intersection of Cooper and Irving Avenues in Ridgewood, Queens, that have been targeted for demolition as part of a cleanup plan released recently by the Environmental Protection Agency. The businesses are within a Superfund site, the term for sites covered by a program that finances the cleanup of hazardous waste.
Mr. Rodriguez’s shop sits atop land formerly occupied by the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company, which from the 1920s through the 1950s extracted metals from imported sand. In the process, the company produced waste containing two radioactive elements, thorium and uranium, which it disposed of by dumping the waste into sewers and perhaps also by burying it, according to the federal plan.
Well, OK, that’s not good practice, certainly. BTW, yes, they were producng rare earths, from monazite, which does indeed contain thorium and uranium. So, how dangerous is it?
If no further remediation were done at the site, a future resident would see an increased risk of cancer of about 0.005 percent, the plan predicted.
So, umm, nothing. And how much will it cost?
The projected cost of the government’s preferred plan for the Wolff-Alport cleanup is more than $39 million.
It’ll cost bundles. So, we’re to spend a lot to achieve nothing. It’s environmentalism gone mad I tell ‘ee!
I would wager that that risk is lower than moving across the Tamar into Cornwall…..and remember, the EU insists that Cornish pasties much actually be made in such a radioactive area these days.