Nearly two years after it spent upward of $5.5 million to remove approximately 13,000 tons of contaminated soil from a state Superfund site in Speonk, and nearly 30 years after the contamination was first detected, the State Department of Environmental Conservation has determined that the property no longer poses a threat to the public.
The Best Building & Supply Treated Lumber Corporation, a wholesale lumber distributor, formerly occupied the 5-acre property located at 1348 Speonk-Riverhead Road in Speonk, which falls within the Central Pine Barrens Preserve. In 1993, the DEC designated the site as a Class 2 hazardous waste site, known as a Superfund site, meaning it posed a significant threat to both human health and the environment.
State officials said the company used harmful products in the treatment and fireproofing of the wood starting in the early 1980s and into the 1990s, and disposed of the hazardous waste on-site. Some of that waste made its way into the groundwater and the surrounding pine barrens, according to the DEC.
The property—which has been reclassified by the DEC as a Class 4 site—first came to the attention of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services in 1985, according to the DEC, when the agency found concentrations of chrome and arsenic in a well on the property.
The Best Building and Supply Lumber Corporation ceased operations in 1996, according to DEC officials.
The state completed a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study in 1999 and decided on a course of action in 2000. Over the next six years, the DEC worked to design the cleanup plan.
It wasn’t until 2009, however, when the DEC completed the designs and, in 2010, the department implemented a remediation program that involved digging up all the contaminated soil and replacing it with clean fill. The plan also involved the clearing of trees and brush from a drainage swale located on the west side of Speonk-Riverhead Road. The business was located on the east side of the road.
The department contracted the Environmental Quality Company of Wrentham, Massachusetts, to carry out the work, as well as install monitoring wells on and near the property. That work was completed in December 2011 and cost the DEC between $5.6 million and $6 million, according to David J. Chiusano, the project manager for the DEC.
DEC officials, who had been attempting to recoup a portion of the cleanup costs from the Best Building and Supply Lumber Corporation, would not say this week if they were successful. Southampton Town records still list the company, which existed under a number of variations of the same name, as the owner of the property.
An employee in the Southampton Town Tax Receiver’s office said the property is in care of James Rambo Inc., an entity that paid the taxes on the property this past year, though she said the town did not have the staffing or time to look up the last year the BB&S Lumber Corporation paid its own taxes.
Officials from James Rambo Inc. did not return calls seeking comment this week.