Marriott in Tuckahoe to Proceed with Construction; Concerns about Contamination Linger for Bronxville Residents Print

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By Carol P. Bartold, Senior Reporter


Oct. 18, 2017:  As construction proceeds on the Marriott Springhill Suites hotel in Tuckahoe, questions remain for Bronxville residents about how the migration of soil and groundwater contamination on the site could affect the village. The hotel, at 109-125 Marbledale Road, will sit atop the former Tuckahoe marble quarry, which ceased operations in 1930. Beginning in the 1950s, the pit was used as a commercial landfill and dump.

The $31 million, 91,000-square-foot hotel will contain 163 rooms, include a 6,400 square-foot restaurant, and provide 208 parking spaces. Remedial excavation and testing of the site was completed in early spring of 2017 and drilling work for the two hundred pilings, which will support the hotel building, is complete.

David Burke, Tuckahoe village administrator, reported that the full building permit, along with electrical and plumbing permits, were issued the week of October 9. Framing the hotel building will most likely begin when concrete work is completed. Burke projects a fall 2018 opening for the hotel.

To educate and inform the community about ongoing concerns arising from the contaminated site in Tuckahoe, the organization Greater Bronxville Indivisible sponsored a presentation by Donald J. Hughes, PhD, on October 14 at the Bronxville Public Library. An educator, chemist, environmental engineer, and principal of Hughes Environmental Consulting Services in Syracuse, New York, Hughes has thoroughly assessed the known environmental hazards of the former quarry site and offered extensive public testimony on its known contaminants and risks.

Known contaminants at the location, per Hughes, include ash and other burned debris from the Eastchester municipal incinerator, Freon from Revlon, and pharmaceuticals and manufacturing byproducts from Burroughs-Wellcome. He also stated that the Village of Bronxville dumped waste at the site.

Although remedial cleanup work on the site is complete, Hughes emphasized that the very general term "cleanup" does not necessarily mean that the site has been cleaned up. "Remedial cleanup means anything that is done to help fix the site," he said. "It doesn't necessarily mean addressing the contamination." He added that fencing off a site and telling people to stay away is considered remedial cleanup.

"Although the quarry was largely ignored for more than fifty years, there are some very dangerous contaminants there," Hughes said.

He reported that very high levels of soil vapors, particularly from perchloroethylene (PCE), a chlorinated solvent, and trichloroethylene (TCE), a solvent used to degrease metal parts and in the manufacture of other chemicals, were found in the former quarry area. These volatile organic compounds vaporize quickly into the air, he said.

PCE and TCE, as well as metals, hydrocarbons, and vinyl chloride, have contaminated two aquifers, a shallow one and one at bedrock level, in the quarry area, Hughes noted. He explained that contaminated groundwater can get into sewer lines and that the substances have possibly been moving very rapidly with the groundwater since the 1950s.

Bronxville resident Betsy Harding pointed out that that the groundwater flow from Marbledale Road proceeds in a general southwesterly direction through the Midland Valley and through Bronxville to the Bronx River. "The only testing I know of is the very limited testing."

Next steps recommended for Bronxville are to identify sources and levels of vapor and water contamination and determine if sewers and underground utilities serve as conduits for volatile organic compounds.

Photo by A. Warner