Cleanup of Columbia Smelting & Refining Works, Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York
Most Recent Documents
- Columbia Smelting Community Update #15 – Winter 2022 (pdf)
- Columbia Smelting Información a la Comunidad #15 - Invierno de 2020 (pdf)
- 社區最新消息# 15 - 2022 年冬季 (pdf)
- Columbia Smelting Community Update #12 - March 2020 (PDF)
- Columbia Smelting Información a la Comunidad #12 - Invierno de 2020 (PDF)
- 社區最新消息# 12 - 2020 年冬季 (PDF)
- Red Hook Recreation Area Community Update Presentation - October 25, 2018 (PDF)
- Columbia Smelting Community Update #9 - October 2018 (PDF)
- Columbia Smelting Información a la comunidad Actualización #9 – Otoño de 2018 (PDF)
- 社區最新消息第9 號 - 2018年秋季 (PDF)
- Presentation from April 30, 2018 Public Meeting (PDF)
- Columbia Fact Sheet No. 7 - April 2018 (PDF)
For more information about this project, please visit the NYC Parks Red Hook Recreation Area Remediation website.
The site is the former location of a secondary lead smelter called Columbia Smelting and Refining Works (Columbia), and the extent of lead-contaminated soil from the smelter, in the mixed-use neighborhood of Red Hook in Brooklyn, New York. The footprint of the historic smelter is developed with a baseball/softball field. The site is within Red Hook Park, a 58-acre park owned by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks).
Several companies including Columbia operated the smelting plant at the corner of Lorraine and Hicks Streets from the mid-1920s through the late 1930s. The building was demolished by 1940, and the block was developed with the current ball fields (Ball Fields 5 through 8) and a soccer field (Soccer Field 7) shortly afterwards; the footprint of the old smelter sits atop Red Hook Ball Field 7 and the Hicks/Lorraine MTA bus stop. Columbia manufactured various types of metals containing high lead concentrations, as well as white metals, alloys (combinations of metals), brass and bronze. The map in the “Site Information” section shows the block where it was located, which is bordered by Lorraine, Henry, Hicks and Bay Streets.
In 2014, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation referred the Columbia site to EPA, along with almost 40 other potential historic smelter sites. EPA conducted an assessment of the site, which included soil sampling in October 2014, March 2015 and April 2015 throughout most of Red Hook Park as well as the Red Hook Houses. Results showed high lead concentrations from the historic smelter at Ball Fields 5-8, and NYC Parks closed these fields to protect public health. EPA determined that a removal action (cleanup) across this entire block is necessary.
Five other athletic fields were also tested by EPA (Ball Field 9 and Soccer Fields 1, 2, 3 and 6), and results showed considerably lower lead levels, but still some elevated lead concentrations beneath 6” below the ground surface. Although contaminants concentrations at the fields are not an immediate health concern, a cleanup of the fields is necessary in the long term. Ball Field 9, but not Soccer Fields 1, 2 and 6, was found to include contaminants from the Columbia facility. As a result, an EPA removal action (cleanup) will be conducted at Ball Fields 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 as part of the Columbia Smelting and Refining Works Site.
NYC Parks will be completing the removal action Ball Fields 5-9 under formal EPA oversight in accordance with a Consent Order for the Site finalized in July 2016. The Consent Order is also found in the “Site Information” section of this webpage.
NYC Parks sampled all remaining areas of Red Hook Park and will be remediating all fields in the park over the long term. Ball Fields 1-4 are undergoing maintenance and are temporarily closed until the grass cover is restored. Soccer Fields 2 and 3 are closed until the long-term remediation can take place. View more information on the cleanup of these fields on NYC Parks' website. These fields are not part of the EPA Columbia Smelting and Refining Works site.
EPA and NYC Parks finalized the design for the cleanup of Ball Fields 5-8 and Ball Field 9. Beginning March 2019, NYC Parks’ contractors removed fencing, most of the trees, curbing, other structures, and the top layer of soil at the ball fields. Contractors placed brightly colored plastic fencing as a visual barrier over the deeper contaminated soil. This visual barrier was covered with at least one foot of clean soil or other material. NYC Parks then installed artificial turf over all of the ball fields. This barrier system permanently reduces the chance of people coming into contact with contaminated soil on these fields and will be inspected routinely. NYC Parks’ contractors finished the cleanup of Red Hook Park Ball Fields 5-8 in December 2021. Work at Ball Field 9, which began September 2019, is expected to be completed in summer 2022.