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Thursday night at a public meeting at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the state unveiled its plan to decontaminate the long-vacant Kent Avenue Generating Station site, which sits on the south Williamsburg waterfront at Kent and Division Street. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has analyzed the former power plant site and discovered several contaminants, including asbestos, arsenic, PCBs, VOCs (volatile organic compounds like benzene) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). It also found an underground oil storage tank on the north end of the site, and a big part of its cleanup plan will involve excavating the tank and digging up the asbestos, which is buried a couple feet underground. The plant was built in 1909 to power elevated trains and streetcars for the Brooklyn Rapid Transit company and then sold in 1950 to Con Ed, who used it as a power plant until retiring it in 1999.

Although Con Edison demolished the century-old seven-story power plant in 2008, they didn’t start decontaminating the site until the fall of 2011. But before they pulled the building down, they did do an asbestos abatement, meaning they removed all the asbestos from the plant and disposed of it safely. Many neighbors present at the meeting were concerned that they had been breathing contaminated dust from the site, but state officials assured them that Con Ed had backfilled the ground with clean soil after pulling down the old electric power plant, and that the rest of the contaminants are buried a couple feet below ground.

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Image source: RunningTractor on Flickr

As we’re all witnessing, power is slowly being returned in clusters to New  York City. On Friday afternoon it was widely reported that 84,936 customers in Queens were without power but by Friday night, 29,000 more were restored in this borough.

Con Edison has given itself a little leeway, promising that the majority of these accounts are expected to be returned to normal by November 10 or 11 – this seems to firmly apply to customers served by underground wires. The more complicated repairs, on connections provided by overhead wires, may take even longer.