Long a concern by area residents, high levels of dangerous methane gas have repeatedly been found at testing wells at the Ferry Point Golf Course which the city's taxpayers are building for Donald Trump. Instead of shutting down the site the State Department of Environmental Conservation has opted to increase the frequency of monitoring. The DEC did not explain how that would solve the problem. (Photos by Daniel Beekman/New York Daily News; Viorel Florescu for New York Daily News)
High levels of explosive methane gas have been discovered next to Bronx homes that abut a dump the city is turning into a golf course for Donald Trump, a Daily News investigation has found.
As construction of the $97 million links has accelerated this year, methane in quantities the state considers potentially volatile has been repeatedly detected in test wells just yards away from homes. Residents of this working-class neighborhood had no idea — and weren’t too pleased.
“That concerns me. What are we breathing?” asked Stephanie Machuca, whose Balcolm Ave. condo sits about 25 feet from a green-capped well that registered excessive amounts of methane in May. The Trump golf course is now under construction on top of a dump that was closed in 1963. The decomposing garbage that’s still underground creates methane, a highly volatile gas that’s been percolating under Ferry Point for years.
Concerns that this methane could migrate into adjacent basements surfaced in 2000 when a proposal to turn the trash heap into a golf course first emerged. In response, the city installed wells on the site and around the edges of the course next to the neighborhood to measure the amount and track the location of the gas.
Inspectors have since regularly checked the wells to make sure the methane doesn’t surpass what’s called a lower explosive level (LEL). They report the results to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
“As a matter of practice of safety, if you have a basement that was 100% LEL and you turned on a light, you risk having an explosion,” said Ken Bresner, a DEC official tracking Ferry Point’s methane.
Workers test for methane at Buttrick Ave. in the Bronx.
Occasionally the test results showed higher levels of methane. But in recent months, the tests have regularly detected concentrations at the project’s edge far in excess of the LEL, records show.
The state is aware of this rash of high methane levels. In response, it has decided not to shut down construction but to increase the frequency of monitoring.
“We’re concerned about movement of landfill gas. This has been an ongoing concern,” Bresner said.
It’s not clear exactly why this is happening, but Bresner noted the recent construction at the site “could potentially disrupt gas under the surface.”
In the last few months, construction of the links — which will be run by Trump on a 20-year lease — accelerated dramatically, with tons of soil dumped on top to shape the contours of the 18-hole course.
(Photo: January 7, 2012. Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)
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