The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed a plan to protect people living and working in residential and commercial buildings at the Meeker Avenue Plume Superfund Site in the Greenpoint/East Williamsburg area of Brooklyn. Groundwater and soil in the area is contaminated with chlorinated volatile organic compounds (CVOCs), which can vaporize into soil and seep into buildings through their foundations.

“The most immediate threat to people is that the contamination can seep into buildings where people can breathe it in, so EPA is testing under foundation slabs to determine if there is a problem,” said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “I encourage people to comment on this proposed plan, which will help EPA take action to reduce and address the potential risk to people in the area.”  

The Meeker Avenue Plume Superfund Site covers over 190 acres across several city blocks in the Greenpoint/East Williamsburg area of Brooklyn. The soil, soil gas and groundwater at the site are contaminated with CVOCs, including toxic tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), which are classified by EPA as likely to cause cancer. This part of Brooklyn included historical petroleum refining and storage operations along the banks of Newtown Creek. The site was discovered when chemical contamination was found in soil and groundwater outside the historic petroleum spill area.

As of December 2023, EPA sampled underneath and inside of 18 residential structures, 11 public housing buildings, and one public school. EPA has results that show no further action is needed at 15 of the residential properties, the 11 public housing buildings, and the public school. Three of the residential properties will require additional monitoring. In addition, in February and March 2024, EPA sampled 18 properties and will be evaluating the results, and will be conducting additional sampling in the future. Because prior sampling from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation did detect CVOC vapors inside several dozen properties, the State installed specialized systems to handle the vapors. This proposed plan would allow EPA to continue to install these systems, as needed, as it continues to sample.

Under the proposal, EPA would install special systems called sub-slab depressurization systems where needed and take preventative measures such as the sealing of cracks and gaps in the lowest level of a structure, where necessary. Sub-slab depressurization involves connecting a blower (an electric fan) to a small suction pit dug into the slab in order to vent vapors outdoors. EPA’s plan reflects the estimated costs for mitigation of up to 100 structures within the Meeker Ave site study area. The plan estimates that EPA’s work will be conducted on an ongoing basis for at least 5 years, the approximate time frame needed for EPA to complete the vapor intrusion sampling necessary.

The EPA is working closely with property owners and area residents to ensure that work is done with minimal disruption. EPA is continuing to investigate the entire site to determine the full nature and extent of contamination.

EPA will hold a public meeting on April 16, 2024 to explain the cleanup proposal and to take public comments. The meeting will be held at 6:00 p.m. at St. Stanislaus Kostka Lower Church, 607 Humboldt St, Brooklyn, NY. Comments will be accepted until May 10, 2024.

Written comments may be mailed or emailed to Rupika Ketu, Remedial Project Manager, EPA, 290 Broadway, 18th floor, NY, NY, 10007,

EPA’s proposed cleanup proposal will be available at Meeker Avenue Plume Superfund Site.