EPA Is Just Now Dealing With Decades-Old Radioactive Chemicals In Bushwick

Not Bushwick.

  • Not Bushwick.

In terrifying news you never even knew you had to be terrified about (in other words, the worst kind of news), EPA officials are working to “shield” radioactive chemicals at a building on the Bushwick-Ridgewood border, the result of a former atomic bomb project site on the property. So, there’s that.

DNAinfo reports that area around 1125-1139 Irving Ave. has been contaminated with thorium since its use by the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company the 1930s, and city officials have known about the problem since a 2007 study turned up signs of radioactivity.

An EPA survey in 2009 reported “no immediate risk to people, but that more evaluation was needed,” but an agency document released last month said, “These waste byproducts were disposed of into a nearby sewer and other wastes may have been buried onsite.”

Why the insane time lag here, you might ask? No one seems to know, and an EPA official on-site simply said, “We just got a referral from the state to perform shielding Aug. 31.”

Officials are now working to rectify the problem and are even doing precautionary testing at a nearby daycare site, but locals at a recent informational meeting were understandably rattled. “Of course I’m concerned,” said one woman. “We’ve been here 40 years, and they hadn’t said a word.”

So, everything you’ve told yourself not to spend time worrying about may really be true, and we apparently still need to be concerned about problems from the 30s. Maybe let’s check in on the possibility of a second Dust Bowl, while we’re at it.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.


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