Kaufman Astoria Studios Levco Former Metals Finishing

Posted on June 15, 2015

Client: Levco Former Metals Finishing
Location: Astoria, New York
Project Type: Site Remediation and Redevelopment

Project Description

Project Description

Kaufman Astoria Studios (Kaufman) retained the services of D&B Engineers and Architects, P.C. to develop a Remedial Action Work Plan (RAWP) for the former Levco Metals Finishing site located at 36 11 36th Street, Astoria, New York. In 2008, Kaufman hired D&B to help them bring the site to final closure given the 20 year history of ongoing site remediation and investigation, and their desire to redevelop the site as part of their continued efforts to revitalize the Astoria neighborhood and make it the largest film and television production center in New York City.


The Levco site was formerly listed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) on the New York State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites in 1989. While the site had undergone a long history of remediation and the NYSDEC delisted the site from the Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites in 1996, the NYSDEC requested further site remediation be conducted in 2002 based on their conclusion that natural attenuation of site groundwater was not occurring at a sufficient rate. In response to this request, Levco entered into a Voluntary Cleanup Agreement (VCA) with the Department and retained the services of a contractor to design, install and operate an Air Sparging/Soil Vapor Extraction (AS/SVE) System at the site. This system operated from approximately July 2005 through December of 2007. Given the NYSDEC had not found the remediation acceptable, Levco released the existing remediation contractor and retained the services of D&B in 2008 to bring the remediation of the site to closure so that Kaufman could redevelop the property.

Location and Site History1

The former Levco Metals Finishing site is located in a highly urbanized area of Astoria, Queens County, New York. The “L” shaped parcel is approximately 22,000 square feet in area and is located at 36-11 36th Street. The site is currently a completely paved private parking lot operated by Kaufman Astoria Studios and is completely fenced with a guard booth located at the site entrance on 36th Street.

The former site has been used for industrial purposes since the early 1900’s. The Levco Metals Finishing Facility started operations at the site in 1960 and conducted metal stripping, etching and plating processes until operations ceased in 1990. In April 1991, the site building was decommissioned and was later demolished in 2000. Shortly after building demolition, the site was completely paved and converted to a parking lot for Kaufman Astoria Studios.

Investigation and Remedial History

Prior to D&B being retained by Kaufman, the site had undergone a long history of investigation and remediation beginning from 1987 through 2007. Site cleanup efforts, voluntarily performed and financed by Kaufman, were implemented in 1991 and were completed under the supervision of the NYSDEC. The program included the removal and off-site disposal of hazardous materials, as well as decontamination of the facility. All interior equipment and machinery associated with the metals finishing operation was removed and disposed off-site. In 1993, an Interim Remedial Measure (IRM) was implemented by Kaufman to remove contaminated soil from the suspected volatile organic compound (VOC) source area which consisted of a below grade sump. Endpoint samples were collected following IRM activities which indicated that elevated VOC concentrations persisted in the soil. Therefore, further excavation activities were undertaken in October 1994.

An investigation conducted in 1995 determined that groundwater quality had improved after completing the IRM and natural attenuation had also reduced the VOC concentrations in off-site wells. Additional groundwater monitoring throughout 1995 confirmed that no other contamination sources were present at the site and that VOC concentrations were decreasing over time.2

On May 15, 1996, the NYSDEC delisted the site from the Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites, but required an 18-month groundwater monitoring period. On January 24, 2002, based on the review of the April 2000 groundwater data, the NYSDEC requested Kaufman to perform additional remedial activities at the site in order to reduce VOC concentrations in groundwater given, in their opinion, the natural degradation of VOCs in groundwater was not occurring at a sufficient rate.

In response to the above request, Kaufman entered into a Voluntary Cleanup Agreement (VCA) with the NYSDEC in July of 2002 to address the residual VOC contamination in groundwater. Accordingly, an air sparging/soil vapor extraction (AS/SVE) system was installed to actively remediate VOCs present in on-site groundwater and soil. The AS/SVE System monitoring indicated VOCs were effectively being removed from the groundwater, soil and soil vapor beneath the site; however, some difficulties were encountered involving the operation and maintenance of the system. Based on available records, the system underwent intermittent periods of downtime but was in operation until approximately August 2007.

In the spring of 2008, Kaufman retained the services of D&B work with NYSDEC to develop a Remedial Action Work Plan (RAWP) that would incorporate site remediation with the planned redevelopment of the property. The intent of the work plan would be to address NYSDEC’s concerns regarding the residual contamination of the site while allowing Kaufman to proceed with redevelopment of the property.

Remedial Action Work Plan and Objectives

The RAOs identified in support of the RAWP developed by D&B included the following:

  • Prevent migration of site-related contaminants that would result in groundwater contamination and inhalation of contaminants volatilizing from the soil through the removal of contaminated soil above site Soil Cleanup Objectives (SCOs).
  • Protect on-site workers and the surrounding community from exposure to site-related contaminants during the implementation of the remedy.
  • Establish general guidelines for the proper management and disposal of soil, water and other waste that would be generated as part of the implementation of the remedy.
  • Establish general guidelines associated with the operation and maintenance of the proposed building to be constructed in order to reduce the potential for future exposure of building occupants and the community to site-related contaminants.

Evaluation of Remedial Alternatives

The Levco site is currently undeveloped and is used as a private parking lot. Planned future use of the property included the construction of a hotel complex with below grade parking to support the existing businesses in the area, that being film production, broadcasting and recording studios. Based on this future use, two remedial alternatives were developed for consideration:

  • Allternative 1: No Further Action with Institutional Controls
  • Alternative 2: Excavation/Removal of Soil to NYSDEC 6 NYCRR Part 375-6 Commercial Use Soil Cleanup Objectives (Commercial SCOs) with Engineering and Institutional Controls

Based on the evaluation of the remedial alternatives described above, Alternative 2, Excavation/Removal of Soil to 6 NYCRR Part 375-6 Commercial SCOs with Institutional and Engineering Controls, was selected given it will be protective of human health and the environment, meets the remedy selection criteria and is compatible with the intended future use of the site.

The selected alternative would include the excavation of soil that exceeds 6 NYCRR Part 375 6 Commercial SCOs including contaminated soil identified greater than proposed redevelopment excavation depths. Based on geotechnical data obtained from the redevelopment of the property directly south of the site, it would be anticipated that the depth for the redevelopment excavation would range between approximately 4 and 10 feet below ground surface (bgs). The volume of contaminated soil requiring off-site disposal is currently unknown, and would be contingent on the findings from the proposed pre-construction soil characteristic sampling, as well as the proposed final plan for the redevelopment of the site.

Evaluation of Remedial Alternatives

A number of activities will be undertaken and completed prior to the implementation of the remedial construction scope of work discussed above, including.

  • Air Sparge/Soil Vapor Extraction System Decommissioning and Removal
  • Sampling of Existing Groundwater Monitoring Wells
  • Pre-Construction Characterization Soil Sampling
  • Well Abandonment

RAWP Approval

After addressing several minor comments, the NYSDEC approved D&B’s Work Plan in September 2010. Currently, Kaufman is in the process of finalizing their redevelopment plans for the site.


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