NY Workers' Compensation Board Finds Cancer Linked to Radiation at Hicksville Nuclear Waste SiteThursday, March 22, 2007
Yesterday’s Newsday had a disturbing article regarding the radiation related health risks to workers who worked on or around the Hicksville, Long Island, Sylvania Nuclear Waste Site ,now owned by Verizon. Our office recently won a workers’ compensation claim for a worker who contracted a rare cancer, extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma, due to ionizing radiation and other toxins while working on this site for Magazine Distributors, Inc., a division of Hudson News. If I were a worker at this site or knew someone who worked near there, I would read this article carefully.
This nuclear waste site, located at 70,100 and 140 Cantiague Rock Road, Hicksville, NY was operated by Sylvania between 1952 and 1967 and was licensed by the US Atomic Energy Commission to manufacture nuclear fuel rods for use during the Cold War. The radioactive elements uranium-235 and thorium were processed and milled at the facility. The uranium and thorium were then subject to machining, grinding and incineration. The facility then burned sludge to reclaim more uranium.
In addition, the Sylvania plant, although unauthorized to do so, burned scrap uranium as a three shift, seven day a week operation until 1960. Large 55 gallon drums of uranium scrap metal were burned on site. During the ongoing site clean-up, 55 gallon drums have been found buried at the site. In addition to the radioactive substances, the site is contaminated with tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene and nickel. Someone described the site as the location of a "dirty bomb".
Verizon, the current owner of the site, set aside $240 million for the ongoing clean-up which is now being monitored by both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corp of Engineers. Recent documents obtained by our lawyers during the litigation indicate that there may be more contamination than originally thought below the 100 building, the former location of Magazine Distributors, Inc.
On November 9, 2006, the Hicksville Water District warned residents of of higher than allowed concentrations of tetrachloroethylene (a toxin found on the site) in the drinking water from one of their supply wells and the potential cancer risks it might cause. The well was immediately taken out of service.
Currently, neither the Army Corp of Engineers nor the New York State DEC nor Verizon are releasing statements about the what is currently being found on this dangerous site. Thousands of pounds of contaminated soil have been carefully transported to Envirocare in Utah. In 2004, New York Senator Schumer stated that "it’s the federal government that created this mess, it should be the federal government that fixes it". To date, the public doesn’t know the current status of the site and when or if it will be properly cleaned up. In the meantime, more workers and local residents are getting gravely ill. Perhaps it’s time for Senator Schumer to get to the bottom of this quagmire and let the public know the current health risks on the site.
As reported in Newsday, the lawsuit brought by local residents against the property owner, Verizon, for their increased cancer risk was recently settled for approximately $11 million. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation is currently prosecuting lawsuits arising from this site in federal court in Central Islip. As stated in the Newsday article, this toxic waste dump could have impacts like those facing 9/11 rescue workers. Workers on this site, which also included the companies Air Techniques and Gilbert Displays, could be facing cancer and other health problems for years to come. Scary stuff!