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Wolff-Alport Chemical Company
Queens, New York

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Cecilia Echols (212) 637-3678
echols.cecilia@epa.gov

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The former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company operated a facility at 1127-1129 Irving Avenue, in Ridgewood, New York on the Brooklyn/Queens border, from the 1920s until 1954. Beginning around 1940, the company began importing monazite sand via a railroad spur behind the facility. Wolff-Alport processed the monazite to extract rare earth elements and sold them to various commercial entities. Process residues of monazite sand contain thorium and to a lesser degree, uranium and their decay products such as radium. These waste byproducts were disposed of into a nearby sewer and other wastes may have been buried onsite. Operations at the site ceased in 1954.

In 1988, an investigation confirmed the presence of surface radiological contamination at the site. The level of contamination found was below the allowable dose limit to the public at that time. Since then, the allowable dose level has changed and subsequent investigations have been conducted. Today the site consists of six parcels of land with a number of structures including several small businesses, office space, and warehouses. Results of more recent investigations indicated that radiation at the site was present within portions of the buildings. In addition, a survey in 2009 found deep soil contamination under the site down to at least 20 feet; possible contamination of a sewage line, surrounding soil and manholes; presence of thoron and radon gas; and indications of off-site spread of residual radioactive contamination.

In 2012, the EPA was authorized to perform a removal action at the site to address the potential health risks associated with exposure to ionizing radiation. EPA's short term removal actions may include, but are not limited to, fencing, shielding, air monitoring/air sampling, and installation of a radon mitigation system. The main areas of concern at this time include the former rail spur behind the buildings, interior space within the buildings and sidewalks and street areas with the highest levels of radiation. Additional investigatory and remedial work may be necessary at the site in the future.

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