Costco opponents in Yorktown hail report citing water-contamination risk.

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Contaminated Water

Article courtesy by Robert Marchant | November 16, 2012 | Source

YORKTOWN— Opponents of a proposed Costco are highlighting what they say is an environmental threat posed by the project as the debate over the warehouse store continues during Planning Board deliberations.

A hydrological report, prepared at the request of opponents of the plan to build a 151,000-square-foot store and a service station, examines the threat of contamination to nearby waterways from the proposed fueling station. Opponents of the retail project hope to use the report to strengthen their argument, as the Planning Board prepares for more discussion on the application on Monday night.

The report by Hydroenvironmental Solutions of Somers concludes that Hunter Brook, which leads into the watershed used as a regional source for drinking water, could be exposed to petroleum products, namely benzene — though the analysis is based on hypothetical conditions such as a major spill at the gas station. Developers of the project, Breslin Realty, say that strict safeguards would be in place to prevent spills at the site, at Route 202 near the Taconic Parkway.

The report states, “In the case of a gasoline spill at the proposed fueling facility, a harmful level of dissolved benzene will reach Hunter Brook in about two and a half years.” The 10-page analysis of soil conditions and geography in the area points also to small-scale spills that may occur from individual customers using the pumps, concluding that “gas will flow overland and eventually make it into the groundwater or the (downhill) Sherry and Hunter Brooks.”

To a Costco opponent, Gia Diamond, the report represents a clear red flag.

“The contamination is going to flow into Hunter Brook and have a devastating effect on the reservoir,” she said.

But a spokesman for a pro-Costco organization noted that the study was contracted by opponents, including the owner of a nearby service station.

“It’s being funded by an anti-Costco group,” said William Primavera, and its conclusions should be seen in that light. In addition, he said, plans prepared by the developers during the approval process call for extensive measures on environmental controls and safety.

According to documents submitted to the town, “The potential impacts to groundwater and surface water on and surrounding the property, in the applicant’s opinion, range from minimal to none.” Developers say the tanks in use will be double-walled and equipped with a variety of safety devices, including an alarm system.

stormwater management system around the station will handle runoff, they say. The developers also say they will clean up existing contamination associated with an old motel and service station.

Debate over the Costco store has also involved traffic congestion and questions of urban sprawl. Opponents say it will change the character of the town, while supporters point to an estimated $613,000 a year in school taxes and 350 jobs the store would generate.

The Planning Board will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Yorktown Community and Cultural Center at 1974 Commerce Street.

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