The Environmental Protection Agency disrupted two businesses on the Bushwick-Ridgewood border because the sites showed elevated levels of radiation due to their involvement in the Manhattan Project, DNAinfo reports. Terra Nova construction and Primo Flat Fix, where Irving Avenue dead ends at the cemetery, stand on the former site of Wolff-Alport Chemical Company, which once by rail brought in monazite sand, a brown crystalline mineral containing rare earth elements, to sort out the thorium, a radioactive element and potential nuclear “superfuel,” and sometimes even uranium byproducts. The work “was performed under contract with the Atomic Energy Commission and the Manhattan Project, a research and development program that produced the first atomic bomb during WWII,” DNAinfo reports.
The levels of gamma radiation present at the sites weren’t enough to cause immediate health problems, the EPA said, but were “high enough to do something,” according to the website. “You don’t want anyone to have any heightened potential for exposure,” the project manager said. A nearby daycare center and school were also tested but the radiation levels there were normal.
The two businesses are upset at the effect that the remediation work, including raised concrete and lead floors, has had on business, saying parts of their spaces have been unusable, and customers flinch at the sight of the construction. The EPA says it has worked with the businesses and it could have been worse—they could have been forced to relocate.
Wolff-Alport used to send its waste down a nearby sewer and may have also buried some of it at the site.
Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart