Primo Autobody Repair – Queens, New York - Atlas Obscura
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Queens, New York

Primo Autobody Repair

The most radioactive spot in New York City can also fix your muffler. 

One might imagine the most radioactive place in New York City to be some sort of rogue lab or weapons dump, but the truth is that it is a nondescript Queens auto shop called Primo Autobody Repair.

The small repair shop has earned the ignominious distinction not from any fault of their own but simply thanks to the land their business is built on. The shop operates out of a 100 year old which was once home to the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company, a firm which specialized in removing rare earth minerals from sand. One of the byproducts of their operation was a highly radioactive substance known as Thorium. In the beginning, the Thorium was simply being poured into the sewers or buried underground. However eventually Thorium was beginning to be used as fuel in nuclear weapons and people began purchasing the material from Wolff-Alport giving them more reason to produce it. When the nuclear demand dried up, the overstock Thorium was once again simply buried or dumped. This left the ground under and around the shop veritably glowing with emanating radiation.

Even today, the radiation in the ground continues to contaminate the site. It is estimated that workers in the Primo shop receive three times the safe amount of radiation each year. Despite the numbers, no action has been taken to clean up the site or grant it Superfund status which would direct money to such efforts.