Radioactive rave: COVIDiot party at Queens Superfund site shut down by sheriff

Rave 2
The Sheriff’s office raided an illegal rave on March 6, 2021 inside a warehouse located within a Superfund site in Queens.
Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office

Potential exposure to COVID-19 apparently wasn’t risky enough for this illegal Queens party.

The NYC Sheriff’s office was at it again early Saturday morning, breaking up an illegal rave during the pandemic at a warehouse on the Brooklyn/Queens border — located within a radioactive Superfund site.

The operation took place at about 1:40 a.m. on March 6 at 1133 Irving Ave. in Ridgewood, which is part of the 3/4-acre EPA-designated Wolff-Alport Superfund zone. Cleanup efforts have been ongoing at the location to clean up decades-old radioactive contamination from within the property.

According to the Sheriff’s office, deputies staked out the location after receiving information about a potential rave there. They spotted a large number of patrons entering the warehouse, which had its security gate halfway rolled down. 

Loud music was also clearly audible to the deputies, who then moved in and broke up the party, law enforcement sources said.

Upon entering the warehouse, the Sheriff’s office reported, the deputies spotted at least 142 people dancing and drinking alcohol without wearing face masks. Authorities said the location did not have a valid liquor license to serve alcohol, nor did it have a valid certificate of occupancy. 

Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office
Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office
Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office

The Sheriff’s office cleared all patrons without incident.

Two security guards — Bakari Brathwaite, 34, of Brooklyn and Walter Louis Jr., 34, of Kingston, New York — and a DJ, Jonathan Alvarez-Conde, 38, of South Ozone Park, received desk appearance tickets for charges including violating the health code and the mayor’s and governor’s executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Irving Avenue site used to house the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company, which operated between 1920 and 1954. During World War II and in the years that followed, it extracted rare earth elements in such a way that it produced a byproduct sludge that contained thorium, a radioactive element.

Before the ill effects of radioactivity were realized, the workers at the company were said to have dumped the sludge into the nearby sewers — causing the radioactive element to spread throughout the immediate area of the site. This practice was ordered stopped by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1947.

More than a half-century later, testing in the basement of a nearby school, I.S. 384 in Bushwick, led to the detection of radon, an odorless, carcinogenic gas.

The tests, however, revealed that the radon levels were lower than levels deemed to be a significant threat to short-term public health. 

That helped lead to the determination that the area near the former Wolff-Alport site needed an environmental cleanup.

In 2013, the EPA approved a nearly $40 million cleanup plan for the Wolff-Alport property, which involved the relocation of businesses and demolition of buildings