Lockheed Martin to remove contaminated soil from Lake Success site

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Lockheed Martin is cleaning up contamination at this office complex at 1111 Marcus Ave. in Lake Success. (Photo from Google Maps)

Defense company Lockheed Martin will move 275 truckloads of contaminated soil from a Lake Success office complex next month, continuing a two-decade cleanup effort there.

The Bethesda, Maryland-based firm will haul the 2,600 cubic yards of soil containing heavy organic compounds from seven locations at 1111 Marcus Ave. from mid-May through July, said R. Stan Phillips, Lockheed Martin’s head of environmental remediation.

The seven sites are among 53 “areas of concern” at the office complex, where Lockheed Martin took over a decontamination project overseen by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 1996, Phillips said. The others are beneath the building or have already been addressed, he said.

“It shouldn’t be very intrusive, really,” Phillips said in an interview last week. “It’ll just be construction activity — you’ll just see equipment.”

The soil contains potentially dangerous metals from industrial processes used at the building when it was a military manufacturing plant, Phillips said.

It will be trucked to an “approved offsite disposal facility,” likely in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, after it is dug up in Lake Success, Phillips said.

The leftover holes, about five feet deep, will be filled with new, clean soil, he said.

Lockheed Martin took over the property near the corner of Marcus Avenue and Lakeville Road when it purchased Loral, another defense contractor, in 1996.

Lockheed Martin ceased operations there in 1998 and sold the property in 2000, but remains responsible for the cleanup under state law, Phillips said. A final consent order outlining the remaining cleanup requirements was approved in September 2016.

Its removal is one of the smaller pieces of Lockheed Martin’s sweeping cleanup efforts, which have cost the company $100 million to $200 million and will continue for nearly three more decades, Phillips said.

Problems started at the site when another defense contractor, Sperry, dumped degreasers and other industrial solvents into underground chambers called dry wells, leaking carcinogenic chemicals known as volatile organic compounds into the groundwater.

That contaminated a 900-acre area, known as a plume, that stretches to the north and west of the site, touching wells operated by the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District and the Water Authority of Great Neck North.

Lockheed Martin has paid to install treatment systems at the affected wells, including one the contamination is not expected to reach until 2027, Phillips said. Some wells are also affected by “commingling” plumes from other contaminated sites nearby, he said.

In 2015, Lockheed Martin and the two water authorities signed a 30-year agreement obligating Lockheed Martin to pay for all operations and maintenance of those systems, ensuring the company will stay involved until 2045, Phillips said.

The company operates two treatment plants of its own — one on the Marcus Avenue property and a second on the nearby campus of Great Neck South High School. It is also required to monitor the levels of harmful chemicals in the groundwater.

The company also installed a complex “sub-slab depressurization system” in the 1.4 million-square-foot office building in 2013 to remove harmful chemicals from the soil underneath the building. The system uses vacuums to pull air from the ground, treat it and expel clean air, according to Lockheed Martin’s website.

The U.S. government built the complex in 1941 as a military manufacturing facility. It was used as the first United Nations headquarters before the organization’s Manhattan home was finished in 1952.

Northwell Health currently owns about half the office space and will take over the other half in 2045 under a $113.7 million lease-to-own agreement with Massachusetts-based Waterstone Development, the current owner.

The Marcus Avenue site is among 98 active cleanup projects in Nassau County listed on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s state Superfund registry.

A total of 21 such sites are located on the North Shore within Blank Slate Media’s coverage area. Three are in Great Neck — two at former dry cleaning facilities and a third at a site owned by a banking company, according to the registry.

Phillips touted his company’s proactive, community-based approach to the cleanup.

For instance, he said, a final consent order from the Department of Environmental Conservation ordered Lockheed Martin to pay $2.8 million in “natural resources damages.” The state wanted to use the money to buy land in Suffolk County, but Lockheed Martin instead asked to put it toward water supply reclamation projects in Manhasset and the Village of Lake Success, and toward a state study of Long Island’s groundwater.

“We’re committed to doing the right thing,” Mekell Mikell, a Lockheed Martin environmental spokeswoman, said in an interview. “It might take a lot of time, it might cost a lot of money, but it’s our obligation, and we want to fulfill it.”

Adam Hoffman, the Lake Success village mayor, said Phillips and Lockheed Martin have always accommodated the village’s requests and provided any information officials needed.

“Stan [Phillips] is an upfront, honest guy, and whatever we’ve ever requested or things we’ve had concerns about, … our environmental specialists always talk to theirs and there’s always been an upfront conversation with them,” Hoffman said.

Efforts to reach the Water Authority of Great Neck North and the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District were unavailing.

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