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Thorium-Tainted Queens Site Deemed Superfund By EPA

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Radioactivity symbol, seen at a demonstration in Berlin. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Radioactivity symbol, seen at a demonstration in Berlin. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — An industrial area in Ridgewood, Queens that was home to radioactive material has been designated a Superfund site.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported Thursday, the site was once home to a company that processed radioactive thorium. Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator Judith Enck announced Thursday that the site had received the Superfund designation, although the radioactivity is no immediate threat to residents or workers in the area.

Santana Ramirez works in the area.

“I’ve been made to see the danger for the community. It’s a very dangerous situation here,” he said.

Enck explained the dangers of thorium, an unstable element with atomic number 90.

“Thorium is radioactive, and is known to cause cancer of the lungs, pancreas, bones,” Enck said.

Enck said the Superfund designation means the EPA will be working to fix the problem.

“What we will do now is develop a long-term cleanup plan,” she said.

The planning phase for the cleanup will take a couple of years.

The parcel includes an auto repair shop, a deli and other small businesses. A school and a day care center are nearby.

There are two other active federal Superfund sites in New York City — the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn and Newtown Creek on the Brooklyn-Queens boundary. New York state has 87 federal Superfund sites, the third-most in the country, Enck said.

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