Soil tests for Agent Orange alarm residents along Third Track project

Posted: Updated:

Neighbors to the Long Island Rail Road’s Third Track project were alarmed to hear that the builder, 3TC, mentioned initial soil testing for Agent Orange at a New Hyde Park construction site.

Back in 1979, an LIRR spokesman told the New York Times that the railroad used the chemical to clear the right of way before 1976. The herbicide has been linked to health issues such as cancer, diabetes and birth defects.

Environmentalists say the presence of Agent Orange in the soil could last for decades. Adrienne Esposito, of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said that recent studies show it's still showing up in Vietnam even though they stopped using it in 1971.

Residents say 3TC told them initial testing showed no traces of Agent Orange in New Hyde Park. Resident Roxanne Binaso isn't convinced. She says her aunt, who lives near the tracks, has battled cancer five times, and there are many other residents who have the disease.

“Only an initial profile of the soil had been done. They haven't done a complete profile,” she says. “They don't even know if they're going to encounter Agent Orange.”

New Hyde Park Mayor Larry Montreuil says there's no reason to be alarmed.

“It was part of the environmental impact statement that the LIRR did. To my understanding the test came out that the soil was safe,” he says.

The mayor says more test results are expected to be released by 3TC next month. The LIRR issued a statement saying preliminary testing of the soil has not yielded any concerns.

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