View Full Version : Newtown Creek

February 11th, 2002, 11:37 AM

February 10, 2002


Sounding a Death Knell for a Long-Forsaken Waterway


In January the smell is almost undetectable, just the slightest hint of sulfuric sourness. In the summer it's enough to make you wince. But the oily water has its chalky green look all year round, and there are hardly ever any boats. It's Newtown Creek, 2002.

The city's Department of Transportation has made what seems like a small request concerning this forsaken three-mile-long waterway separating Queens from Brooklyn. It wants to turn the Grand Street swing bridge, one of the dozen that cross the creek, into a fixed structure.

Something that moves costs much more to maintain than something that doesn't, said Iris Weinshall, the transportation commissioner. And it has been years since a ship required the blue-green bridge, a rickety 1903 structure at the far end of the creek, to swing open.

"If there had been any recent openings, we'd say forget it, but there haven't been any," said Gary Kassof, bridge administrator for the First Coast Guard Division, which has jurisdiction over the creek. He was speaking of both the Grand Street bridge and all the deteriorating rail and road bridges across it.

But the Coast Guard's looming assent to this minor cost-cutting request is full of symbolism.

To make the Grand Street swing bridge a fixed structure will seal the fate of the waterway, rendering it impossible for ships to pass through. For a waterway that was the busiest industrial port in the Northeast 60 years ago, its waters continuously churned by a long line of boats, it would be an official death knell.

Newtown Creek is woven deeply into the city's history. Until the Dutch arrived, the Maspetches Indians lived along its banks in what is now Maspeth, Queens. Some believe that Captain Kidd used a friend's waterfront property there to stash his plunder. The creek was part of a boundary dispute from the mid- 1600's to the mid-1700's between Bushwick and Newtown, the precursors to Brooklyn and Queens.

But it was through commerce that the waterway came into its prime.

By the 1850's, the creek was an industrial center that both fueled and paralleled the explosive growth of New York. Glue factories, smelting and fat-rendering plants, one of the earliest kerosene refinery and other smelly enterprises clustered along the shores of the creek and its little tributaries. The toxic sludge from these businesses got company in 1856, when the city decided to dump raw sewage directly into the water, a practice that continued for decades.

In the 1920's and 30's, the creek was widened to accommodate the growing traffic. In its heyday, the bridges that crossed it opened tens of thousands of times a year.

"Newtown Creek was a highway," said Bernard Ente, a local historian. "It was just boats instead of trucks." He estimated that 500 enterprises lined the creek at its peak. Large boats brought in raw materials and fuel and took out oil, fat, varnish, chemicals and metals.

Then came World War II. The government commandeered the factories to make military equipment.

Francis Principe, 92, a Maspeth resident who supervised a factory that made aluminum for fighter planes, said that during that time, "There was always tanker traffic."

But then the creek began a rapid decline. The national highway system, built after World War II, made trucks a more efficient way to transport goods. Shippers no longer had to be tied to water routes or railways.

Now, buildings along the water stand empty. Instead of ships, plastic bags pass beneath the bridges like half-submerged ghosts. The remaining factories don't use the water.

But kayakers have been spotted at the creek recently, and Community Board 1 in Brooklyn is considering creating a series of pocket parks along the shore. The blue-claw crabs have come back, too.

Mr. Principe sees the writing on the wall. "If the D.O.T. closes down one bridge," he said, "then others will follow, and the creek's as good as gone." *

February 11th, 2002, 11:47 AM
The following images are from the Frank J. Dmuchowski website (http://www.dmuchowski.com/upthecreek/)

The structure of the Grand Street Bridge (http://www.wirednewyork.com/grand_street_bridge.htm) swings open to let boats pass.


The Grand Street Bridge (http://www.wirednewyork.com/grand_street_bridge.htm) spans the gap of the Kill


February 11th, 2002, 11:52 AM
Here is the map from the Department of Transportation website (http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/dot/html/bridges/index.html)


February 19th, 2002, 01:19 PM
Another bridge over Newtown Creek...

Decision Due on Span

State weighing 4 plans for Kosciuszko Bridge

Daily News Staff Writer

The state Transportation Department is inching closer to deciding what to do with the Kosciuszko Bridge.

Options range "from an aggressive maintenance plan to a complete replacement of the structure," said DOT spokeswoman Jennifer Nelson.

The plan was first made public in 1995, causing a stir in the communities adjacent to the bridge in Brooklyn and Queens.

Since then, the Transportation Department has continuously repaired the bridge, which has more than 170,000 vehicles using it daily.

The Kosciuszko Bridge carries the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway over Newtown Creek from Maspeth to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and connects to the Long Island Expressway on the Queens side.

"It is highly congested during rush hours, affecting conditions not only on the BQE, but local streets as well," Nelson said.

"We are at the point where we need to decide is what is the best course of action," the transportation spokeswoman said.

To help with that decision making, two open houses have been scheduled to inform the public about the various scenarios concerning the bridge's future, said Robert Adams, project manager.

The first will be in the auditorium of Public School 199 at 39-20 48th Ave. on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. A second will be held in Brooklyn on Feb. 27 at St. Cecilia's Church, 84 Herbert St., also from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Adams said four scenarios are under consideration:
Keeping the bridge as is with aggressive maintenance.

Rehabilitating the structure in kind.

Rehabilitating the structure with extra lanes.

Replacing the whole bridge.
"We have not begun a cost analysis yet," Adams said. That, he said, would be a part of the study.

"It would not be surprising to anyone here if the cost to just rehabilitate it was not much different from a complete replacement," said the project manager.

The Transportation Department has not ruled out anything, said Dolores Rizzotto, district manager of Community Board 2, which represents the West Maspeth area where the bridge is located.

Rizzotto said the scope of the project was extended to the 48th St. exit of the Long Island Expressway at the request of the community because of all the merges to the bridge at that point.

Dorothy Neary, an officer of the United Forties Civic Association, said her group plans to be at the meetings.

"Ever since Robert Moses built the Long Island Expressway and took half of our community away, we have been suffering. We want to make sure there is not another land grab and that something is done about the truck traffic on our residential streets," Neary said.

Original Publication Date: 2/19/02

February 15th, 2004, 01:57 AM
February 15, 2004


Hike on Newtown Creek? It Isn't Quite That Awful


Early in the 17th century, Dutch settlers bought a large piece of land from the Maspet Indian tribe along what is now known as Newtown Creek. The tribe, whose name survives in the Queens neighborhood Maspeth, might have been eager to make the deal, given that they called the area "at the bad water place."

It is not known why they disparaged the creek back then. But the reasons to do so now are plain. Despite being long past its prime as a shipping hub, Newtown Creek, which forms the northern border between Brooklyn and Queens, is a 4.3-mile waterborne theme park for the remnants of industrial abuse.

In fact, Alex Matthiessen, the executive director of Riverkeeper, an environmental group, said the creek was so polluted that "there is a defeatist attitude" about it in government agencies. Maureen Wren, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Environmental Conservation, disagreed, saying that it inspects facilities to make sure the water regulations are followed, investigates possible polluters and works to clean up contaminated sites.

But Riverkeeper has taken matters into its own hands. Two months ago, it sent letters to five companies that operate on the creek - a cement plant, a scrap yard, a beverage distributor, a construction supply company and a recycling plant - announcing that it planned to sue them for violating the federal Clean Water Act if each company did not at least come up with a cleanup plan by the end of December.

Although most of the companies denied any polluting, Mr. Matthiessen says the letter has gotten results.

One of the companies was Allocco Recycling, which decontaminates soil and pulverizes used concrete in a plant that abuts the creek at the end of Kingsland Avenue. Kenneth Reiss, a spokesman, said the company cooperated with Riverkeeper even though its operations were not harming the water. "We spent $150,000 to increase the size of our bulkhead and raise it up to prevent any further erosion," he said. "We even put netting underneath our outdoor conveyor belt."

Mr. Matthiessen is cheered by such actions, but said much more needs to be done. The creek is bordered by 160 properties, he said, and his group is sending out more letters.

Ms. Wren said the conservation department was cleaning up the Phelps Dodge site, which has been designated by the federal government as a highly toxic site, and pressed for a continuing $2 billion improvement to the large Newtown Creek Sewage Treatment Plant. As for Allocco Recycling, "D.E.C. did investigate that thoroughly,'' she said, and determined that "there were no discharge or outfalls.''

If these pollution fighters succeed, Bill Schuck, an art teacher and kayaker who lives on Commercial Street in Greenpoint, may be among the first to know. "There are slicks of garbage around where I put the kayak in," he said. "There might be condoms and wooden pallets floating in the water. Further down the creek, it gets really polluted and still."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 15th, 2004, 09:54 AM
Why can't they build bridges that are high enough for watercraft to pass beneath them? They should leave enough room for tugboats at least. That way the creek can stay open to barge traffic to surve industry.

Who knows? Maybe down the road we will see cabin cruisers and catamarans?

February 23rd, 2004, 11:48 AM
Anyone interested in an exploration of Newtown Creek? Qualified historical and environmental guides will host a cruise in late May or early June. Boat sails from East 23rd Street and East River. Ticket price about $40 for a four hour tour. 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Date will be May 30, or June 6, or June 13. To be determined after I hear from you.

For more information or to reserve a ticket reply to




February 24th, 2004, 01:00 AM
Clean it up. Move all non-essential to water industries to other indutrial parks in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, LIC, Maspeth, wherever. Create parks, shops, apartments, houses, etc.

3 1/2 miles is long and would be amazing if done right.

Anyone know of any plans in any way similar to this?

February 25th, 2004, 01:57 AM
So...can you answer me?

February 26th, 2004, 11:15 PM
Thanks. I appreciate it.

February 27th, 2004, 04:44 PM
I might be interested in joining this tour.

March 23rd, 2004, 11:07 PM
I'm hoping to go but I remember there's a lot of things going on that weekend for me... I'll have to check.

March 26th, 2004, 10:17 AM
Thanks, sounds interesting but unfortunately I'll be out of town.

March 26th, 2004, 02:47 PM
CM: We're going. 2 people. The older one has two questions: what kind of boat is being used, and what kind of weather is within its tolerance?

March 26th, 2004, 10:55 PM
Pardon my ignorance, but what does that mean?

March 30th, 2004, 09:38 AM


by Ben McGrath

Issue of 2004-04-05
Posted 2004-03-29

In the quaint game of rhapsodizing about the city’s foul waterways, Newtown Creek is generally a bastard stepsister to the more celebrated Gowanus Canal. The Newtown offers only one point of public access, and it has just one residential building along its banks. But it is much bigger than the Gowanus (three and a half miles long versus one and a half, and wider, too), far more polluted (twenty direct sewage portals all its own), more variably odorous, and, because it serves as the boundary between Brooklyn and Queens, far more peculiar for the fact of its relative obscurity and abandonment. In fact, few may know that the creek is currently home to the largest urban oil spill—seventeen million gallons, which is half again as big as the Exxon Valdezdump—in the history of North America.

Like dual Charons at the river Styx, two enterprising young city councilmen, Eric Gioia, of Long Island City, and David Yassky, of Greenpoint, arranged a boat tour of the creek last Thursday, to mark their commitment to cleaning it up; they’d recently joined a lawsuit, filed by Riverkeeper, the Hudson-watershed advocacy group, to hold ExxonMobil and others accountable. They are merely the latest in a line of government officials who over the years have tried, with varying levels of effort and uniformly little success, to undo the effects of a disastrous chain of events that originated in Greenpoint more than fifty years ago. Fuel from a nearby Standard Oil (now, roughly, ExxonMobil) plant seeped into the city sewers, then ignited. The explosion was so powerful that it sent twenty-five manhole covers flying and released untold amounts of oil into the Brooklyn-Queens aquifer, where the discharge began oozing glacially eastward toward Newtown Creek.

A rickety assemblage of wooden boards at the end of Manhattan Avenue, in Greenpoint, passes for the creek’s lone dock. Captain John Lipscomb had tied up his converted lobster boat there, and was in the cabin studying a birder’s field guide, as Basil Seggos, an investigator for Riverkeeper, greeted wary passengers. “There’s a guy named Vinny who lives just up the street,” Seggos said. “He’s a big crabber. He feeds his family with it.” Seggos held up a bucket-shaped contraption made of chicken wire: one of Vinny’s crab traps. Although the state has designated the waterway “precluded” to aquatic life, blue crabs, bluefish, and striped bass apparently inhabit the lower end of the creek.

Councilman Gioia arrived, wearing a navy-blue suit and a red tie. “You guys brought your rods, right?” he said.

A boat ride along Newtown Creek is an opportunity not to be missed. “This really should be the Brooklyn-Queens Gold Coast,” Gioia said, and he described a vision rather strikingly at odds with the creek’s industrialized banks, invoking green spaces, ferries, and a winding bike path. The boat pulled into the channel and proceeded east, into the heart of darkness: past the Nemo, an abandoned tug from Panama, and a thriving demolition yard, with a sixty-ton flywheel for instant auto-shredding.

As the vessel headed up the creek, Seggos explained that the spill covers fifty-five acres of shorefront, in the shape of a pear, between the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and the Kosciusko Bridge. A faint smell of sewage and brine gave way, in alternating turns, to sulfur and burning rubber and, occasionally, just plain gas station, depending on the changing ingredients: diesel, No. 2 home heating oil, naphtha.

Was it true, someone asked, that the creek was flammable? “I wouldn’t smoke near it,” Seggos said.

About a mile from the dock, Seggos saw a particularly viscous patch with an unfamiliar rusty tint, and he alerted Captain Lipscomb. As the boat idled, Seggos retrieved a jar and donned a pair of long rubber gloves. “Would somebody please hold my feet?” he asked, and then leaned out over the water. The sample he came up with looked to be three parts mud, one part tomato soup.

“It’s not like this is just an oil spill that happened fifty years ago,” Gioia said. “You’re watching it happen in front of you. It makes you want to call 911: ‘Police officer, I’m watching a crime being committed. Please stop it right now.’ It’s the smoking gun.”

Of the original seventeen million gallons, fewer than four million have been successfully removed. Seggos held up the Ziploc bag in which he’d deposited his sample—one pint’s worth. “Math lesson,” he said. “There are a hundred million of these little jars in the spill not yet recovered.”

“Environmental litigation is not for the fainthearted,” councilman Yassky said. The boat reversed course and headed downstream, back toward the oddly comforting spectacle of ordinary waterfront blight.


June 11th, 2004, 12:51 AM
Amazing it's still not cleaned.

I would love this to be parks, etc. It would be wonderful to have the newly developed Greenpoint waterfront and the Olympic Village spot connected with a ped/bike bridge. That would really make this entire waterfront, from Williamsburg to the end of Queens West, one big esplanade.

June 13th, 2004, 09:54 PM
It would be wonderful to have the newly developed Greenpoint waterfront and the Olympic Village spot connected with a ped/bike bridge.

There are plans for a pedestrian bridge. It will be hinged and pivot out of the way for shipping.

SWEET. Thanks.

July 30th, 2004, 11:57 AM

Sunday, August 1 at 10 a.m., "Newtown Creek Cruise" travels the waterway between Queens and Brooklyn, once a bustling route between industries on both banks. Meet in Brooklyn at the Fulton Ferry Landing at the foot of Old Fulton Street, opposite the River Cafe; fee, $45; members, $35. Reservations required: (718) 788-8500, Ext. 208.

March 4th, 2005, 08:15 AM
Indicting To Clean Up Newtown Creek

by Sam Williams
04 Mar 2005

In the summer of 2003, a little more than a full century after the publication of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," Basil Seggos and fellow members of the local watchdog group Riverkeeper (http://www.riverkeeper.org/) made their own trip up one of the world's scariest waterways.

Where Conrad chose Africa's Congo River as his exotic setting, the Riverkeeper team chose a destination closer to home: Newtown Creek, the industrial waterway separating Greenpoint and Long Island City. Long known as a dumping site for industrial polluters, the creek had evaded (http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/environment/20031027/7/%20583) cleanup thanks largely to its remote, secluded nature.

"We had to take a row boat to get into the east branch," says Seggos, noting the presence of a bridge that effectively blocked passage for the 36-foot boat the organization usually uses when inspecting local waterways.

What the Riverkeeper inspectors found when they got to the other side of that bridge confirmed their worst suspicions. Seggos says there was a "huge white plume" of sediment pouring into the waterway from an underwater drainpipe. It wasn't too hard guessing the source of the plume. Immediately adjacent to the spot where the sediment hit the water was a cement plant, Quality Concrete, and subsequent testing proved the sediment to be high in calcium, an indicator of the limestone aggregate used to make concrete.

"These guys obviously had no cheap ability on site to hook into the city sewer lines," Seggos speculates, noting that 80 percent of the businesses along Newtown Creek operate with no city-provided sewer service. "Rather than hook up a treatment system which is what these kinds of companies should do, they were dumping into an old storm line and sending it to the creek for disposal."

Citing state law which forbids the dumping of untreated industrial waste into New York waterways, Riverkeeper filed notice of its intent to sue. The organization held off on filing the actual lawsuit for the winter, however, when Quality Concrete representatives indicated a willingness to clean up the site. When spring 2004 came and went with no observed cleanup activity, however, the group chose an alternate strategy: It invited Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes, Greenpoint Councilmember David Yassky and other notables to climb aboard the patrol boat and see the waterway himself. Again, the boat couldn't make it all the way up the creek, but what Hynes saw was enough.

"He was appalled by the conditions," recalls Seggos. "We passed the case on to him, and he ran with it."

That was last summer. This January, the Kings County District Attorney announced the indictment of Quality Concrete, now doing business as Maspeth Concrete Loading, and its chief executive officer, Constantine Quadrozzi, on 22 felony counts and 20 misdemeanor counts of unlawful sewage discharge. "This indictment sends a message that we will not tolerate these actions," said Hynes in a Jan. 2005 statement to the press.

Although the defendant company is based in Maspeth, Queens, just over the borough line, Richard Farrell, an assistant district attorney who is helping prosecute the case, says the office feels it has the authority to go after the company. First of all, the waterway impacted borders Kings County. As a second reason, he cites "the 500 yard rule" in that any courts usually give both county governments the ability to prosecute anything that occurs within 500 yards of the county line.

Brian Gardner, Quadrozzi's attorney, was unavailable for comment for this article, but in a January statement to the Daily News predicted an out-of-court settlement. "Once we sit down with the DA's office, we expect [the charges] to be fully resolved in our favor and dismissed," Gardner told the newspaper.

Even if both sides find a mutually suitable resolution, Farrell sees Quality Concrete as only the first step in what is sure to be a decades-long effort to clean up a creek that has been an industrial haven since the mid-19th century. Larger problems, most notably a 52 acre ExxonMobil site that contains the remnants of a 17 million gallon oil discharge, promise an even bigger legal fight. Still, the bridge has been crossed, both literally and figuratively, and those on the enforcement side appear willing to take on fresh opponents.

"There are other pollution situations being looked at," says Farrell. "I would not call the Quadrozzi situation the most egregious situation out on the creek."


June 27th, 2005, 10:17 AM
View looking west from Kosciuszko Bridge

Not that I want to displace all industry, but wouldn't this be amazing to develop for residential and recreational? This really could be as nice as Riverwalk in San Antonio...an amazing connnection for the "new LIC" and "new Greenpoint". Really would make the entire section of the East River one amazing neighborhood.

June 27th, 2005, 01:34 PM
NYS regulations won't allow recreational use along waterways that don't meet
minimum clean water standards.

Yes, but that's all the more reason to friggin' clean up all the oil, etc. It's more than overdue.

June 27th, 2005, 02:16 PM
You can't see it in that pic, but the industry in the area is actually very active. They just expanded the apocalyptic-looking sewage treatment facility in greenpoint, plus newtown creek has the world's largest spill of petroleum distillates (not a little thing to clean up). In fact, I just saw a crew taking core samples from my block last week - hopefully to confirm that I am still not on the plume of contaminated ground water. hopefully....

From Riverkeeper: (http://www.riverkeeper.org/campaign.php/pollution/we_are_doing/805)


Newtown Creek: The Greenpoint, Brooklyn Oil Spill
In January 2004, Riverkeeper initiated a citizen suit against two of the world’s largest oil companies for the largest urban oil spill—right in the heart of New York City. In May 2004, Riverkeeper filed the lawsuit itself against ExxonMobil for violation of the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and since then NYC Councilmembers David Yassky and Eric Gioia, as well as Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, have filed notice letters as well, with the intent to join the lawsuit.

Oil swirls on the surface of Newtown Creek. Photo credit: (c) Stephen Wilkes 2004 All Rights Reserved.
For more than half a century, 17 millions of gallons of oil have been oozing beneath Greenpoint, Brooklyn, courtesy of ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and other oil companies. The spill courses beneath 55 acres of industrial, commercial, and residential property, affecting 100 homes and dozens of businesses. Petroleum from the spill continuously leaks into Newtown Creek; globs of oil and a rainbow sheen constantly coat the surface of this small waterway separating Brooklyn and Queens. The spill – 50% larger than the Exxon Valdez disaster – is a major source of contamination throughout the New York Harbor. Carcinogens, lead, and a bevy of other toxins are carried for miles with the tides and currents. Though discovered 25 years ago and brought under state enforcement in 1990, remedial efforts have been a failure. The companies continue to violate federal law. Riverkeeper took decisive action on January 26, placing the companies on formal notice of the organization’s intent to file citizen suits under the federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”) and Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (“RCRA”).

The Greenpoint spill is an environmental affront to both the Brooklyn community and citizens across the city. Riverkeeper's aim is to accelerate spill remediation, ensure that the aquifer and its soils are restored, prevent oil from entering Newtown Creek, and to protect the health and welfare of New Yorkers. Brooklyn has suffered long enough from these blights and it is time to bring these companies to justice. Click on the links below to learn more about the history and effects of this massive spill.

More About Newtown Creek: The Greenpoint, Brooklyn Oil Spill:
http://riverkeeper.org/images/arrow_story.gifA History of the Spill (http://riverkeeper.org/campaign.php/pollution/we_are_doing/923)
http://riverkeeper.org/images/arrow_story.gifMap Depicting Newtown Creek Oil Spill (http://riverkeeper.org/campaign.php/pollution/we_are_doing/952)
http://riverkeeper.org/images/arrow_story.gifGreenpoint Oil Spill Archive (http://riverkeeper.org/campaign.php/pollution/we_are_doing/915)

August 3rd, 2005, 07:21 PM
NYS regulations won't allow recreational use along waterways that don't meet
minimum clean water standards.
I guess Venice wouldn't meet their standards either. Or Amsterdam: have you seen the water in Amsterdam?

August 3rd, 2005, 10:34 PM
^ They've got nice cities, though.

August 5th, 2005, 03:47 PM
Plus, there is always the Phelps-Dodge site in Queens. There must be leakage of the copper and other heavy metals into the creek.

November 3rd, 2005, 06:27 PM
I am currently starting a project that will focus on cleaning newtown Creek. this forum has been of great help. i just want to say thank you and please continue to share the information you have on Newtown Creek.

November 11th, 2005, 06:32 PM
Not that I want to displace all industry, but wouldn't this be amazing to develop for residential and recreational? .

I think it would be best to remove all "industrial" users from the waterfront, but bring in "commercial" development to attract recreational boaters- and create a "lively & populated" waterfront year round.

From what I am seeing on the NYC hudson river, the efforts of the various non-profits, and envirnmental groups are do more to keep the general public "away" from the waterfront.

The parks, piers, boathouses are windswept desolate places event during the summer months (weekdays) and the general population of NYC are not comming out in big numbers as I think the would if we had more places like Leonardo on pier 57, Chelsea piers, the Maratime float pier on 23rd, all commercial and very attractive, fun place to visit - year round, seven days a week.

The enviromental groups (in my opinion) how are so vehimently anti-commercial development are only shooting themselves in the foot.


November 11th, 2005, 08:29 PM
IFrom what I am seeing on the NYC hudson river, the efforts of the various non-profits, and envirnmental groups are do more to keep the general public "away" from the waterfront.
What groups and how so?

November 11th, 2005, 08:54 PM
To Zippythechimp
The info contained therein best expresses my frustrations and desires for the nyc waterfront - Particularly the NYC hudson river - where I go kayaking.


The opportunity squandered is enormous. New York’s 578 miles of shoreline—by far the largest urban waterfront in the United States—could make the city more prosperous and more livable. This vast shoreline could accommodate a broad range of uses, from popular parks and prime residential addresses to thriving centers of commerce, industry, and transportation. It could be a richly varied scene of restaurants on piers, of townhouses overlooking marinas, of tree-lined public esplanades with majestic river views. One can imagine hotels with their own docks for guests arriving by boat; small cargo vessels bringing goods directly to stores; water taxis carrying commuters and tourists to numerous points throughout the city.

Who or How? That is all to well known in the area, particularly by a neighborhood member like yourself. Basically all the non-profits are anti- commercial development.

November 11th, 2005, 09:17 PM
Such sentiment might be called “open-space absolutism”—an uncompromising insistence that the waterfront be transformed into parks and public space unsullied by private profit or development.

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, once a rundown area of wharves, produce markets, and railroad yards, now features office towers, hotels, housing, parkland, and marinas, along with the National Aquarium, the Baltimore Convention Center, and Harborplace, a bustling complex of restaurants and small merchants. The result has been a revitalization not only of the waterfront but of nearby downtown Baltimore as well—even a transformation of Baltimore’s overall image, making the city into a popular center of tourism and conventions.

The vital spark came from the private sector. The revitalization took shape back in the late 1950s, when the local business community raised funds for the drawing up of a longterm development plan for Baltimore’s Charles Center area, adjacent to the waterfront. The plan expanded to include the Inner Harbor, and the city government, private developers, and the Baltimore Development Corporation (a public authority) banded together to make it a reality. The development program also benefited from having begun in the 1960s, prior to federal and other environmental rules that would have complicated the demolition of old Inner Harbor piers.


November 11th, 2005, 10:08 PM
Pardon me for just skimming through the article, but it was written in 1996, and you have to agree that much has changed in 10 years.

I don't understand what groups like the River Project are doing to impede access to the river.

The only mention in the article about environmental groups was in reference to Westway, which it calls "visionary."

A few points concerning Westway:

1. Westway was not parkland with buildings in it. It was a real-estate development with some parks. It was BPC all the way to midtown. I live in BPC, and while there is excellent access to the riverfront, the presence of a residential population will invariably lead to conflicts over park uses. I can't speak to the quality of kayak facilities in HRP, but I can tell you what would happen if someone wanted to open a facility along the BPC bulkhead. If HRP is ever completed, it will provide better access and more varied recreational uses than Westway.

2. The Chelsea Piers would have been demolished for Westway.

3. Westway would have pushed development further away from existing mass transit without any new transit infrastructure.

4. The underground roadway would have needed on off ramps at key intersections. Since they could not be reasonably close together, a surface roadway would still be needed to access the street grid.
What would have happened at rush hour when the tunnel jammed up is the same thing that happens now on clogged highways - take the service road.

As I see it, no environmental groups are holding up park construction, rather it is the unwillingness of the state and city to allocate funds. Assuming construction starts next year in Tribeca, in a few years there will be completed segments in Clinton, the Intrepid, Chelsea, the Village, and Tribeca.

I am only disappointed that there has been little movement at Gansevoort and pier 40.

Such sentiment might be called “open-space absolutism”—an uncompromising insistence that the waterfront be transformed into parks and public space unsullied by private profit or development.It is written into the HRP charter, and generally agreed to, that there will be commercial development in the park.

I don't think I would want a Home Depot on Pier 40.

The development program also benefited from having begun in the 1960s, prior to federal and other environmental rules that would have complicated the demolition of old Inner Harbor piersAnd I'm positive I wouldn't have wanted to launch a kayak in the Hudson River in the 1960s.

November 11th, 2005, 10:29 PM
Pardon me for just skimming through the article, but it was written in 1996, and you have to agree that much has changed in 10 years.

I don't understand what groups like the River Project are doing to impede access to the river.

I have found that most of the non-profits on the waterfront are opposed to commercial development.

The waterfront is a desolate, disused place - except for a few sunny summer weekends - not hardly what I could be. Why - political oppositon.

The pullic sector, and that means non-profits on the waterfront, are not bringing people (on mass) to our waterfrontl. It could be acheieved. This is not about Westway- Im over that - but thanks for addressing it because the current shabby developments are just another manifestation of the same Ideology that blocked the wesway projedt. But lets, look to the future of the waterfront - from what I see, (and I on it year round) it looks like it going to be a wholly underutilized place.

For example..........................

Consider what the Hudson River waterfront from Tribeca to Clinton might look like under a different political and regulatory climate. The Hudson River Park, expanded by landfill and platforms and financed by development sites, would be a recreational and cultural center as important to the city as Central Park. Pier 40, developed as a complex of townhouses, shops, and esplanades, would be one of Manhattan’s most prestigious addresses, the waterfront equivalent of Central Park South. Such development, far from making the shoreline exclusive to a few, would provide revenues for the maintenance of large stretches of parkland and public space. The waterfront would be a tourist attraction, too. On its newly expanded piers, one might find an open-air theater, a new restaurant row, perhaps a stable for horseback riding along a landfill-enhanced shoreline path or a marina with sailboats for rent.

A glimpse of the West Side’s potential may be found at the Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex, perched on four piers between 17th and 23rd Streets. The $100 million complex, most of which opened in late 1995, contains television studios and diverse recreational facilities, from a marina to a golf driving range on one pier to two large ice skating rinks on another. A 1.2 mile esplanade that runs along the perimeter of the piers provides free public access to the site’s entire riverfront. The complex is expected to be profitable, producing $25 million in revenue this year and $40 million in 1997, according to projections by its developer, the private Chelsea Piers Management Company. Moreover, Chelsea Piers, located on property owned by the New York State Department of Transportation, will generate over $2 million in annual rent under a 20-year lease, providing revenues for the maintenance of the Hudson River Park.

Yet Chelsea Piers stands on the Hudson as an isolated success story.

I have said my piece on this subject - thank you for you post, I will offer no further retort.


November 11th, 2005, 11:02 PM
As I stated, the model for your vision is BPC. The cost of landfill and decking would require massive real estate development. The result would be nothing at all like Central Park, but more like Central Park West.

Nothing wrong with CPW, but I have more access to the park than I do to those buildings.

Those pain in the ass environmental regulations have cleaned up the river considerably over the last 40 years, when its condition was closer to that of Newtown Creek.

November 12th, 2005, 12:40 AM
Those pain in the ass environmental regulations have cleaned up the river considerably over the last 40 years, when its condition was closer to that of Newtown Creek.

This "issue" I am getting at is not about environmental regulations, or a vision of BPC extended, or Westway regrets. The "issue" is the continued political opposition to expanded commercial development in HRPark.

It is political oppostion that stopped the pier on hudson street from beiing leased out - and it is political opposition that is blocking the "proposed" resturant (see schematic) on pier 25/26. Where is the political opposition comming from.

One example of such "Vehement Opposition" to commercial development is currently being played-out in the design for piers 25/26. There was a resturant slated to be built on pier 25/26. I know for a fact that this project is meeting heavy opposition at the community boards and from various local non-profit environmental groups. Question-What is wrong with putting a resturant there. I have ask all the regulars there (I know them, and they all know who I am) and I can never get a comprehensible answer as to why there is such vehement opposition to that resturant.

I would like to see more people using the piers year round. The park is substantially completed now - and it is a windswept desolate place most of the year. With more commercial development will come a "lively and well populated" waterfront - yearround.

I would like to use the resturant on pier25 as a "case in point" and will continue to follow any news I can get on it. If anyone knows, please jump in - the water is fine.


November 12th, 2005, 02:11 AM
and it is political opposition that is blocking the "proposed" resturant (see schematic) on pier 25/26. Where is the political opposition comming from.

How can you state that there is political opposition and not know where it is coming from? Got a name, organization, news article?

As stated in this thread (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2893&page=7), the HRP website mentions a restaurant for piers 25/26. I have heard of no opposition to the restaurant. The complaints I have heard concern changing the character of the piers. In my opinion, this type of opposition is merely a an excuse from people who do not want the area closed during construction. The same sort of opposition was voiced when the renovation of Washington Square was announced.

A restaurant was planned at pier 84, and that's exactly what is being built now. If you want an answer about piers 25/26, attend the next CB1 (http://www.cb1.org/) Waterfront Committee meeting, on Nov 28th. Only CB1 has community input on piers 25/26.

The park is not substantially complete. Only 2 of the dozen piers have been rebuilt, and the 2 focal points, pier 40 and Gansevoort, are still undeveloped. It is way too early to measure park usage, but even at this early stage, I would characterize the completed Village section as popular.

The development choices for the large piers (pier 57 for example) are commercial options.

Besides the main HRP thread, there are separate threads for piers 40, 54, 57, and 84.

November 12th, 2005, 06:54 AM
How can you state that there is political opposition and not know where it is coming from? Got a name, organization, news article?

ABesides the main HRP thread, there are separate threads for piers 40, 54, 57, and 84.

I wiil say the same, on the developments on the other threads: it seem to all come down to NIMBYsim - a general opposition to building "Anything" : and particularly when it is Private Sector.

I will bring out this old chesnut of an argument onec again, on the other (on topiic) threads.


November 12th, 2005, 08:45 AM
In other words...

You don't know anything about opposition to the restaurant.
Statements presented as facts on this forum are usually accompanied by documantation.

Sorry this thread got diverted off Newtown Creek for nothing.

June 13th, 2006, 11:58 PM
I did a job in Newtown Creek as a tugboat crewman 2 years ago.... I took time off from college to make a few bucks doing this, and saw all of the nooks and crannies of NYC's waterways....

This place was horrific... lots of pollution, the water was so filthy that the captain told us any deckhand who fell overboard was going to the hospital. On our way out with a barge we had kayakers in there!!

Nooooo kayakers... stay awayyyyyy from Newtown Creek

October 17th, 2006, 05:23 AM
October 17, 2006
Congress Members Seek Action on Newtown Creek

Three members of Congress stood yesterday next to Newtown Creek in Brooklyn, the site of a massive oil spill 56 years ago, to call for more aggressive steps to clean up a resulting environmental hazard that may still lurk beneath hundreds of homes and businesses.

Senator Charles E. Schumer and Representatives Anthony D. Weiner and Nydia M. Velázquez said too little has been done since the 1950 spill to reverse the damage and monitor its impact on health and property values.

“There has been a generation of cover-up,” Mr. Weiner said. Over the years, government studies have concluded that the spill had leaked 17 million gallons of oil under more than 50 acres of Greenpoint.

Mr. Weiner said the Department of Environmental Protection had been ordered by Congress this summer to conduct a fresh analysis of the problem and submit its findings by next July.

The joint appearance by Mr. Schumer, Mr. Weiner and Ms. Velázquez came amid heightened concern over the long-term impact of the underground pollution. Although residents of Greenpoint have been aware for decades of oily smells emanating from their yards and basements, the problem resurfaced in the courts in 2004 after members of Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog group, discovered a large oil slick floating on Newtown Creek and filed suit against Exxon Mobil.

Last month, state environmental officials and Exxon Mobil reported that they had found elevated levels of a carcinogen, benzene, and an explosive chemical, methane, in vapors near the site of the spill. Mr. Schumer said yesterday that there was no proof that the chemicals were produced by underground oil pollution, but that “the discovery underscores the difficulty” of assessing the full scope of the threat.

State environmental officials tried to force Exxon Mobil to speed up its timetable, but have so far failed. In June, Denise M. Sheehan, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said the department had asked the attorney general to “initiate legal action against Exxon Mobil Corporation to ensure that company fulfills its obligation” to clean up the spill.

Exxon Mobil was the largest of several oil companies that used the Greenpoint site, once a major oil refinery and an oil storage depot until the 1980’s. Under a consent decree it signed with the state in 1990, Exxon Mobil has been pumping out the underground oil in a process that would take decades. So far, 9.3 million gallons have been removed, the company said yesterday.

Brian Dunphy, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, said the company had concluded that the methane discovered at the site had recently come from natural gas pipelines, not the underground oil. He said benzene had been found in an industrial area, not in or near anyone’s home, and that Exxon Mobil was conducting more tests to find other pollutants.

“Complex remediation projects like this where the product to be recovered is underground and not easily accessed simply take time to complete,” Exxon Mobil said in a statement yesterday.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

December 25th, 2006, 09:03 AM
The best source for Newtown Creek infomation. Meetings are held in Long Island City or Greenpoint. Sign up to the mailing list for advance notification of 2007 meetings and tours.


January 12th, 2007, 03:15 PM
Newtown Creek Alliance

Next meeting Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Details on the web page:


February 9th, 2007, 12:43 AM
New York Moves Toward Suit Over a 50-Year-Old Oil Spill

Newtown Creek, looking toward Manhattan. Exxon Mobil and four other companies face possible lawsuits for
a 50-year-old spill that contributes to its pollution.

Published: February 9, 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/09/nyregion/09brooklyn.html)

ALBANY, Feb. 8 — New York State moved to sue Exxon Mobil and four other companies on Thursday to force them to clean up a half-century-old spill of millions of gallons of oil lying under the Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn and to repair environmental damage inflicted on nearby Newtown Creek.

The spill, originally several times the size of the Exxon Valdez oil leak, resulted from an accident in the 1950s and lay undiscovered until 1978. In notices of intent to sue that were sent to the five companies, Andrew M. Cuomo, the state attorney general, said that so much oil had leaked into the creek that some samples of its sediment, when dried and weighed, were nearly one-tenth oil.

The notices also disclosed that an internal study by one of the companies found nearly 100 different pollutants in the creek water or sediment, including benzene, arsenic and lead.

The other companies receiving the notices were BP, Chevron, KeySpan and Phelps Dodge.

The state’s action is a sharp turning point in its handling of the spill, which in recent years has occasioned lawsuits by Greenpoint residents, local elected officials and environmental groups. A 1990 agreement between Exxon Mobil and state environmental officials had required the company to recover the spilled oil, but it specified no deadline and required no remediation of either the creek or the polluted soil under Greenpoint.

About eight million gallons of oil and petroleum byproducts are believed to remain underground, and past soil tests have revealed that the spill releases toxic vapors into the neighborhood above. Mr. Cuomo’s action will seek a far faster pace for recovering the oil, extensive scientific testing to determine damage to the soil and groundwater, and millions of dollars in fines. Cleanup costs could increase the companies’ expense by tens of millions of dollars, Mr. Cuomo’s aides said.

“This is one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation, larger than the Exxon Valdez and slower in the cleanup,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement.

“Exxon Mobil must and will be held accountable. The toxic footprint of Exxon Mobil is found all over this area. It is Exxon Mobil’s oil that remains under the homes and businesses. And it is Exxon Mobil that has dragged its feet and done as little as possible to address the dangers that it created.”

According to the notices, Exxon Mobil’s current mechanisms for recovering the spilled oil have, as a side effect, discharged yet more pollutants into the creek, a process that the company has been aware of for years, the notices say. A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said on Thursday that Exxon Mobil had also been reselling some of the recovered oil, even as it allowed the creek to become more polluted.

Barry Wood, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, said the company had not received the notices. In a statement, he said the company had already helped recover more than 9.3 million gallons of the petroleum products.

“While the cost of remediation at the site is confidential, Exxon Mobil is committed to remediation of the site, and we have been aggressive in our efforts and have made significant progress,” Mr. Wood said.

He added that the company remained committed to its 1990 agreement with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

“We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and have committed substantial resources toward cleaning up the site,” he said.

“Complex remediation projects such as this, where the product to be recovered is under ground and not easily accessible, takes time to complete.”

Phelps Dodge operated a copper smelting plant on the creek’s north bank, in Queens, where studies have found heavy metals and other pollutants.

Companies later acquired by KeySpan owned gas processing facilities along the waterway that contaminated the creek’s sediments with some of the same pollutants and other toxic chemicals, according to the notices.

Companies later acquired by Chevron and BP operated storage or refinery facilities along the creek that leaked oil into the ground, according to the notices.

Together, the notices significantly widen the scope of state legal action concerning the creek, a dirty, 3.5-mile-long estuary that marks Brooklyn’s northern border and flows into the East River. Local politicians said yesterday that they believed Mr. Cuomo’s actions would pave the way for a long-overdue cleanup of the creek and its transformation into a recreational waterway.

“The Brooklyn-Queens waterfront has the potential to be New York’s Gold Coast, with sparkling towers, schools, parks and libraries,” said Eric Gioia, a City Council member whose Queens district abuts the creek. “Cleaning Newtown Creek is critical to that vision.”


Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who took over investigation of the spill from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation last year when he was attorney general, praised Mr. Cuomo’s decision.

“This is an important day for the people of Greenpoint, Brooklyn,” Mr. Spitzer said. “It is imperative that Exxon Mobil and the other companies responsible for this pollution be held fully accountable.”

When first discovered, the spill was estimated at 17 million gallons of oil and oil products spread over 100 acres. Currently, the spill covers about 55 acres.

For years, Greenpoint residents have watched as environmentalists battled state officials and the companies responsible for the oil. In 2004, Riverkeeper, an environmental group, decided to file its own lawsuit against Exxon Mobil.

The following summer, soil tests performed by the group showed toxic fumes coming from the ground over the spill. That caused a second lawsuit by about two dozen Greenpoint residents.

Both suits are active, but local officials and environmental groups said Mr. Cuomo’s move would put significant new pressure on Exxon Mobil.

“They have managed to manipulate and work with previous administrations and enlist their help in avoiding a serious remediation,” said Alex Matthiessen, the president of Riverkeeper. “Attorney General Cuomo’s notice letter brings that to a screeching halt.”

Federal laws require Mr. Cuomo to give the companies advance notice of his intent to sue them, and to allow the companies to avoid the suits by acting quickly.

BP, Chevron, KeySpan and Phelps Dodge have been cooperating with state officials to clean up their own properties, according to Robert E. Hernan, an assistant attorney general who heads Mr. Cuomo’s environmental enforcement unit.

But Exxon Mobil may prove more resistant. According to the notices, the attorney general’s office recently approached the company and asked it to take responsibility for stopping continuing leaks at one of two sites it owns.

The company declined, the documents state, and Mr. Hernan predicted that it would fight the new action in court.

“Our expectations are not high,” he said.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

February 11th, 2007, 08:50 AM
So, let's see ... how does it go? If the state wins, Exxon cleans up, huh?

Or maybe ExxonMobil appeals or drags its heel for a couple more decades, and then everyone lets it subside back into simmering inactivity.

So maybe it stays this way forever.

There are two entirely separate issues here, and they need to be un-linked: 1. cleaning up and 2. deciding who pays for it. The former can be done now, the latter is likely to take decades (or forever).

If the state feels this has to be done at all costs, they should do it now and sue ExxonMobil to recover the cleanup's cost. That way the decades of trying to recover the cost will be blessed with a cleaned-up creek teeming with development --even if the state loses.

The other way, the creek stays polluted and undeveloped till the distant time when the final appeal on payment responsibility is exhausted. And there's no guarantee the state will win.

And if the state loses: the state either pays for it anyway, taking decades to accomplish it and find the funds-- or the state discovers it isn't so important to clean up after all (sour grapes).

Just do it now, Spitzer, and sock Exxon for the cost.

If --a half century from now-- the government fails to recover the clean-ups cost, there'll be a half-century of Gold Coast tax revenue and a grateful citizenry for a consolation prize.

Why, the consolation prize alone is worth it.

February 11th, 2007, 09:20 AM
Taking it up a notch is exactly the right thing to do.

That's what happened with GE. A binding agreement was reached, with set dates. The federal EPA has the authority, if the company doesn't comply, to do the work and send them a bill. Work begins this spring, and will take 6 years.

It's easy to say that the state should do the work (in which case it's almost guaranteed they will not collect one penny), and not have to decide what gets eliminated from the budget.

February 11th, 2007, 09:41 AM
It's easy to say that the state should do the work (in which case it's almost guaranteed they will not collect one penny), and not have to decide what gets eliminated from the budget.
You eliminate the things that are less important. If you eliminate nothing, it means everything's more important.

That's what the government is saying in effect as long as work's not underway. Maybe this isn't really very important...

Not disputing what you're saying, Zippy; just clarifying what I'm saying. If the EPA is the speediest way to go, I'm all for it (they're part of what I call the state, i.e. the government). I don't care which branch does it, but if it's important, then delaying a start while arguing about who pays is just not an option.

Either that or it's really not that important...

February 11th, 2007, 09:59 AM
But it has to go to court to force the issue. It should have been done years ago.

I've watched the Hudson River PCB charade for decades. Study piled on study. Yeah, we'll clean it up. Wait, it's degrading naturally. OK, maybe it's not, but disturbing it would be worse. We'll study it more, and get back to you.

What didn't help during that period was that CEO Jack Welsh was regarded as a corporate deity, and there was a reluctance to take him on.

The climate has changed, especially in regard to Exxon and its bloated profits. Hopefully, when that twit is out of the White House, the EPA can be rehabilitated.

May 10th, 2007, 06:00 AM
Newtown Creek Cruise
Sunday, July 8, 2007

An intense four hour exploration of Newtown Creek, NYC.

Departs from East 23rd Street, Manhattan
11:00 A.M.

Hosted by Newtown Creek Alliance.
Sponsored by Working Harbor Committee.

For tickets and more information:




May 14th, 2007, 12:42 PM
Newtown Creek Alliance Meeting

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Meatspace Gallery
46-01 5th Street, One block west of Vernon Blvd
Long Island City
6:30 P.M.


Vernon/Jackson station on #7 train

Complete directions to the gallery are on their website.

They are hosting an exhibit, "Submerged", inspired by the water, so is is a perfect fit.


June 5th, 2007, 02:56 PM
Ten million gallons of toxic gunk trapped in the Brooklyn aquifer is starting to creep toward the surface. How scary is that?



July 18th, 2007, 08:05 AM
July 18, 2007

Suit Seeks Belated Cleanup of a 57-Year-Old Oil Spill

Stephen Hilger/Bloomberg News
Chemical traces from a 1950 oil spill are still found in
Newtown Creek between Brooklyn, left, and Queens.


The New York State attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit yesterday against Exxon Mobil and four other companies to force them to clean up a 57-year-old oil spill that has polluted the soil beneath Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and left traces of toxic chemicals in nearby Newtown Creek.

The spill — said to be originally almost twice as large as the Exxon Valdez disaster, which dumped 11 million gallons of oil off the Alaskan coast in 1989 — resulted from an industrial explosion in 1950. It went undiscovered until 1978, when the Coast Guard found a subterranean pool that contained an estimated 17 million gallons of oil products.

In the lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, the attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, said he is seeking to compel Exxon Mobil and the other companies to speed up the cleanup and to force them to pay millions of dollars in fines. Also named in the suit are BP, Chevron, KeySpan and Phelps Dodge.

For years, Greenpoint residents have wondered whether state environmental officials or the companies would finally clean up the spill, which occurred at an oil refinery and storage facility on the Brooklyn-Queens border. In 2004, Riverkeeper, an environmental group, filed its own lawsuit against Exxon Mobil. The following summer, soil tests performed by the group found toxic fumes coming from the ground above the spill. That prompted a second lawsuit by about two dozen Greenpoint residents. Both suits are pending.

The state’s lawsuit is a sharp turnaround in its handling of the spill. A 1990 agreement between state environmental officials and Mobil Oil — which merged with Exxon in 1999 — required the company to recover the spilled oil, but it specified no deadline and required no cleanup of either the creek or the polluted soil under Greenpoint. In February, the attorney general’s office indicated a change of policy was at hand by sending Exxon Mobil and the four other companies a notice of its intention to sue.

About eight million gallons of oil and petroleum byproducts — including benzene, arsenic and lead — are believed to remain underground, and soil tests have revealed that the spill has released toxic vapors in the neighborhood.

Mr. Cuomo said the spill was nearly twice the size of the one created by the Exxon Valdez accident. He added that the oil seeps from the bulkheads of the former oil facility into the three-and-a-half-mile-long Newtown Creek and then into the East River.

“It’s amazing this situation has gone on as long as it has,” Mr. Cuomo said in an interview. “It’s been allowed to exist for decades.”

In the almost 30 years since the spill was discovered, the companies have made no progress in treating the contaminated soil, Mr. Cuomo said, and they have not addressed the contamination in Newtown Creek. Beyond fines and a faster cleanup, the suit seeks scientific testing and investigations to determine the scope of the environmental contamination, cleanup of contaminated groundwater and soil and the restoration of Newtown Creek.

Barry Wood, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, said yesterday that company officials had not seen the suit and could not comment on its specific charges. In the past, Exxon Mobil has said that it has helped to recover more than 9.3 million gallons of oil and oil byproducts from the spill and that it takes its responsibilities seriously under the 1990 agreement with the state.

Basil B. Seggos, chief investigator for Riverkeeper, said the state’s lawsuit is “a fairly dramatic step forward.”

“It demonstrates the state is prepared to hold Exxon accountable for its misdeeds and reverse 30 years of inaction,” he said. “We look forward to working with the attorney general.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

July 18th, 2007, 10:58 AM
I'm amazed there's no statute of limitiations. From what I've heard, some of this goes back to the old Standard Oil days.

July 18th, 2007, 11:03 AM
Should this situation have a statute of limitations, and what should it be?

July 18th, 2007, 11:16 AM
I'm not saying it should, I'm just a bit surprised that it doesn't.

Should this situation have a statute of limitations, and what should it be?

September 29th, 2007, 08:16 PM
September 29, 2007 Nature Walk Opens


October 2nd, 2007, 10:00 AM
Coming somewhat out of left field...

Someone talked about the GE Hudson PCB thing. Unlike the Newtown Creek situation, which was accidental/negligent/illegal, when GE was dumping PCBs in the Hudson it was with full knowledge and permission of the the various government agencies involved at the time.

October 2nd, 2007, 11:02 AM
Which ^^^ does not make the GE / Hudson dumping permissable, legal or wise.

The government types have a constitutional responsibility to safeguard the citizens.

October 2nd, 2007, 02:34 PM

The government gave them an explicit permit to do something and it's not legal? Where the hell do you get that. Then forty years later, the gov't is, like, oops, that was a bad idea. They shouldn't be changing the rules after the game's been played.

Which ^^^ does not make the GE / Hudson dumping permissable, legal or wise.

The government types have a constitutional responsibility to safeguard the citizens.

October 2nd, 2007, 05:18 PM
The government gave them an explicit permit to do something and it's not legal?It was not illegal, but not because any "permit" was issued. It was just done until officially banned.

Monsanto began manufacture of PCBs in 1929.

By the mid 30s, studies had already identified health risks.

In 1952, GE began using PCBs in capacitors made at its Hudson Falls plant.

In 1968, PCB poisoning was documented in Japan.

GE responded to NYS requests that the company moderate its PCB discharge by threatening to move all operations out of the state.

In 1976, the Toxic Substance Control Act banned the manufacture of PCBS.

In 1977, PCB discharge into rivers was banned by the Clean Water Act.

August 26th, 2008, 06:04 AM
U.S. Officials Will Review Pollution in Waterway

By SEWELL CHAN (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/sewell_chan/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: August 26, 2008

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/e/environmental_protection_agency/index.html?inline=nyt-org) has agreed to “develop a sampling plan” that could lead to Newtown Creek’s being named a federal Superfund site, a designation that could accelerate long-stalled cleanup efforts in the polluted, oil-slicked 3.5-mile estuary between Queens and Brooklyn.

The agency’s decision was made public on Monday by the offices of Representatives Nydia M. Velázquez (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/v/nydia_m_velazquez/index.html?inline=nyt-per) of Manhattan and Brooklyn and Anthony D. Weiner (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/anthony_d_weiner/index.html?inline=nyt-per) of Queens and Brooklyn.

Last month, the two lawmakers urged the agency to test the area for inclusion in the Superfund program. If the tests turn up a significant level of chemicals and other hazardous waste, the site could be eligible for millions of dollars in federal assistance. A Superfund designation would also allow the agency to go after the companies responsible for the contamination.

In 1990, ExxonMobil entered into two consent decrees to clean up the spill, roughly 17 million gallons of oil and other chemicals that leaked into the ground after a tank explosion in 1950. The company says roughly half the spill — discovered in 1978 — has been cleaned up, but the pace of the work has been criticized.

Lawmakers have asked the E.P.A. to test four sites — two former hazardous-waste facilities, a former copper-smelting plant, and a former coal-gasification complex — that are believed to be particularly contaminated.

In a letter dated Aug. 15, Alan J. Steinberg, a regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, noted to Ms. Velázquez, Mr. Weiner and Representatives Gene Green of Texas and Hilda L. Solis of California that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation was already working to remedy decades of industrial pollution at the site, including oil releases.

But Mr. Steinberg added that the agency would “review existing information from ongoing and past environmental investigations.”

“From the information gathered in this review,” he wrote, “E.P.A. will identify any data gaps that may exist and will subsequently develop a sampling plan to address them. We anticipate that this effort will take approximately six months to complete. Once the data are collected, E.P.A. will evaluate what additional actions, if any, may be warranted in accordance with Cercla.”

Cercla is the acronym for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, which created the Superfund program.

Dumping of industrial materials into Newtown Creek dates as far back as the 19th century, but the oil spill that is the subject of litigation and legislation is believed to have begun in the 1950s.

In 2004, after soil tests by the environmental advocacy group Riverkeeper (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/r/riverkeeper/index.html?inline=nyt-org) detected toxic fumes coming from the ground above the spill, dozens of residents filed a property damage lawsuit against ExxonMobil and the other two companies, BP and Chevron, that have owned or currently own industrial sites from which the spill has spread.

In 2006, Eliot Spitzer (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/eliot_l_spitzer/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the state attorney general at the time, agreed to look into the matter, and in 2007, Mr. Spitzer’s successor, Andrew M. Cuomo (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/andrew_m_cuomo/index.html?inline=nyt-per), sued ExxonMobil. But meanwhile, local officials have called for more aggressive federal action.

In a statement on Monday, advocates cheered the decision by the federal agency to review Newtown Creek.

Basil Seggos, chief investigator at Riverkeeper, said in a statement. “The resources of the E.P.A. will prove indispensable in protecting the creek and its surrounding communities from a legacy of toxic dumping.”


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

September 4th, 2008, 05:26 PM
The Newtown Creek Tour is almost sold out. If you would like to join us please do not hesitate to buy a ticket.

The handout includes copies of the 1932 Port Authority waterfront maps. Our narration covers historical aspects of the waterway. Environmental speakers discuss present-day pollution and solutions. Possible sightings could include tugs and tankers. Two drawbridges will open for us.



March 4th, 2010, 06:08 AM
Dolphin spotted in Brooklyn's polluted Newtown Creek

BY Erin Durkin

March 4th, 2010

One of two dolphins spotted in the East River off of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

A dolphin was spotted Wednesday in Brooklyn's notoriously polluted Newtown Creek.

"We were just amazed," said Roy Arezzo, one of two teachers from the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School who saw the 7-foot dolphin swimming deeper into the filthy water.

"We just stood there in awe - shouting, telling it to go back the other way. ... This is a once-in-a-lifetime sighting."

The creature may have come upstream from a spot near the Brooklyn Navy Yard where fireboat captain Bill Hannan spotted two dolphins Tuesday.

"It's heartbreaking to see such a beautiful creature in such terribly polluted water," said John Lipscomb, a patrol boat captain for environmental group Riverkeeper, who said the dolphin was likely sick and disoriented.

"We hope it finds its way back to sea," he said.

Rob DiGiovanni, director of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, said the group would monitor sightings of the dolphin and could mount a rescue mission if there were signs it's in distress.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2010/03/04/2010-03-04_dolphin_up_a_polluted_city_creek.html#ixzz0hClX 1Wnh

March 30th, 2010, 10:22 PM
Newtown Creek Up Close

"Former Morgan Oil Terminals Corporation, 200 Morgan Avenue, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, looking west"

http://gothamist.com/upload/2010/03/AnthonyHamboussi.jpg (http://gothamist.com/2010/03/30/anthony_hamboussi_photographer.php?gallery0Pic=2#g allery)
"Remains of the former Pepsi-Cola bottling plant, 46-00 Fifth Street, Long Island City, Queens, looking west"

"End of Dutch Kills from Twenty-ninth Street, Sunnyside, Queens, looking west"

http://gothamist.com/assets_c/2010/03/5AnthonyHamboussi-thumb-76x76-492810.jpg (http://gothamist.com/2010/03/30/anthony_hamboussi_photographer.php?gallery0Pic=2#g allery) http://gothamist.com/assets_c/2010/03/2AnthonyHamboussi-thumb-76x76-492807.jpg (http://gothamist.com/2010/03/30/anthony_hamboussi_photographer.php?gallery0Pic=3#g allery) http://gothamist.com/assets_c/2010/03/6AnthonyHamboussi-thumb-76x76-492811.jpg (http://gothamist.com/2010/03/30/anthony_hamboussi_photographer.php?gallery0Pic=6#g allery) http://gothamist.com/assets_c/2010/03/7AnthonyHamboussi-thumb-76x76-492812.jpg (http://gothamist.com/2010/03/30/anthony_hamboussi_photographer.php?gallery0Pic=7#g allery)

Anthony Hamboussi just put out a book of pictures of Newtown Creek (http://www.amazon.com/Newtown-Creek-Photographic-Industrial-Waterway/dp/1568988583/?tag=gothamist03-20), the industrial waterway between Brooklyn and Queens. We asked him a few questions about the creek, his experience getting arrested while photographing there, and about his approach to picture-taking.

Most of our readers know that Newtown Creek is the polluted tributary of the East River that separates Brooklyn from Queens. What else can you tell us about it? Yes, of course it is extremely polluted and the book definitely shows this. Yet the book deals with a myriad of topics. What we see in the “Newtown Creek” is a microcosm of what happens to the land use in cities during their transformation from a major hub of industrial activity to a secondary but necessary series of spaces, which function and serve the city hidden from our view. One of the effects of this transformation is what the industry left behind, pollution, but it also left a rich and intriguing history for us to unravel, understand and learn from.

What drew you to spend five years photographing in and around the Creek? When I began the project I did not place a time frame on how long the work would take to produce. In 2002 I sent a proposal to the New York State Council on the Arts for funding. I proposed to systematically document the built environment that surrounds the Creek during a time of rapid real estate development in NYC. I realized that the urban fabric of the city would change dramatically with gentrification getting closer to this area. At that time I called the project the Newtown Creek Archive Project.

The State awarded me the funds, which helped me continue photographing along with researching. I found the history of this industrial district to be quite intriguing and became obsessed with its discovery. More importantly, I was fascinated by it’s current use and the politics and negotiation of space. All these factors are what kept me there until I felt the Archive was through. The complete visual archive contains hundreds of images not printed in the book but represents a definitive visual study of the landscape during this time.

One of the issues we're most interested in here at Gothamist is the gentrification of previously industrial spaces in the city, especially the waterfront areas. How has Newtown Creek changed since you began working there? The photographs in the book are arranged chronologically and they are a witness to the changes that I experienced along the Creek. One of the major changes was the water front park built as part of the percent-for-art element of the Water Pollution Control Plant upgrade in Greenpoint (you can see the park under construction on the book’s cover). Before the park opened there had been no programmed public access points along the Newtown Creek. Around 2003-4 NY began a bid for the 2012 Olympics and the western tip of Hunters Point was a proposed site for the Olympic Village. They had famous architects making proposals through competitions. During that time the area was completely transformed and all the old industrial buildings were knocked down and empty lots were now ready for development. Whether NY won the bid or not (which it didn’t) the area was now ready for developing and real estate investment. And since, it has been growing rapidly along the western waterfront. Yet the further you go east along the creek the slower things change, but it’s all changed non-the-less.

There's been a lot of news recently about the superfunding of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, but Newtown Creek is arguably larger and even more polluted. Do you think it'll ever get cleaned up? I’m not sure. But for me it has never been about whether the creek is cleaned up or not but about understanding the conditions on which to move forward. I felt most of the vernacular architecture that existed along the creek had the possibilities of reuse and have value as a point of reference for history.

During this project you faced constant hassling from the police for shooting industrial buildings around Creek, lost your press credentials, and even got arrested while shooting outside The Keyspan Energy Facility. You're of Egyptian extraction- do you think that had anything to do with it? Of course. Most people were afraid of another attack of terrorism. On the one hand there was a lot of ignorance. The fact that photography had become “illegal” to certain degree made it all the more necessary for me to continue photographing in public space which I deemed as my right. The act of photographing I felt took on the element of being a political act. The suspicions I encountered from police, security and those who worked and lived along the creek was an impetus' for me to continue my project. I had been doing the sort of opposite of what most of these people were assuming. My intent had more to do with the love I had for the place as well as its preservation. I was born in Bushwick and had an intimate knowledge of the surrounding areas. But of course I was racially profiled and with the climate of paranoia people didn’t want to try and understand my intention but everyone wanted to be a hero.

Tell us a little bit about your process- you filmed many of these shots from a platform you constructed on top of your van. Why? The platform came about as I began photographing and realized that there was no visual or physical access to the waterway. Only a few businesses that lined the creek use the waterway, to ship waste or to deliver petroleum, otherwise it is used as a continuing dumping ground. The only way to see the waterway is to raise your self above the fencing and walls built for keeping you at a distance from the creek. The height also helps when rendering the proper proportions and prospective of most structures as well as adding a foreground element in my compositions to illustrate the inaccessibility to the waterfront. To physically gain access to the waterway I had to trespass onto to abandon sites or sites under construction, which were plentiful. I wanted the work to have a sense of how closed off the space is to the general public. That was my main reason for not approaching any of the businesses for permission to gain access through their properties. It felt like a small suburban community where if you were not part of the area you would immediately be spotted. Then I was usually asked what I was doing there and why.

And what kind of camera did you use? I work with a large format Camera on a tripod. This camera uses a 4”x5” inch sheet of film. I work with this camera because it can render a scene with exceptional detail and has the ability to both change the plane of focus and adjust the perspective. There are also a series of images in the book that were made from a boat. In that case I used a 6x7 cm medium format film camera hand held.

What time of day did you do most of your work? My main concern was with the quality of light as well as the activity going on around the area. I avoided photographing during the peak business hours. I usually found myself there during weekends, holidays and off-hours (usually after 4pm on weekdays when most work ceased for the day). These were the least active moments that eliminated most human presence from the images. I wanted to create a type of image that would engage the viewer. Both the quality of light and the inactivity of the space give the viewer a chance to see the space in a more introspective way (the place itself and not the drama unfolding in the space). The deceptive banality of the spaces forces the viewer to look more closely at the image and hopefully ask themselves what they are looking at.

What are some of your other favorite areas of New York to shoot in? I’ve photographed mostly in Brooklyn and Queens. Last summer I worked with a non-profit organization called the Center for Urban Pedagogy. Our collaboration produced a wonderful book called “What is Affordable Housing?” NYC Edition. This project took me to all five boroughs and was a pleasant surprise for me. I began rediscovering the city’s beauty at its furthest reaches.

What are you working on next? Currently I’m working on a book about similar urban phenomenon in Paris and in the past year I’ve begun to work in the city of Cairo.



August 5th, 2010, 05:58 AM
Between Queens and Brooklyn, an Oil Spill’s Legacy



The salt marshes are long gone from Newtown Creek, and so are most of the birds and fish. Now, this waterway straddling Brooklyn and Queens is dotted by bulkheads and containment booms meant to keep oil away from the shoreline while underground pumps work around the clock removing petroleum from adjacent land.

Decades in the making and confined to a corner of industrial New York, the oil spills in and along Newtown Creek do not have the drama of disasters like the current one in the Gulf of Mexico and the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

But long before the gulf crisis riveted the nation, more than a century of unchecked operations and storage by refineries that lined the four-mile-long creek fouled its waters and seeped through 55 acres of land in the vicinity.

Estimated at 17 million to 30 million gallons — smaller than the ballpark estimate of up to 200 million gallons released by the Deepwater Horizon well but outstripping the 11 million that poured from the Exxon Valdez — the combined spills along Newtown Creek have obliterated wildlife, polluted an aquifer, hindered economic development and set off health scares among those who live and work nearby.

“The impact is more subtle than in the gulf,” said Phillip Musegaas, a lawyer with Riverkeeper, an environmental group that sued Exxon Mobil in 2004 for its role in the contamination. “The spill is unseen, and it’s in an area that was industrialized and already polluted. But the waterway is severely stressed, and it’s not a functioning ecosystem anymore.”

Now, after a history of neglect and lawsuits against oil companies like BP and Exxon Mobil over the extent and pace of cleanup efforts, local residents say they have cause for hope: The federal government is proposing to designate the creek a toxic Superfund site, mandating a rigorous cleanup of the water and sediment.

Some residents say the gulf spill is helping to sensitize New Yorkers as never before to the responsibilities borne by oil companies and the risks that people run in living cheek by jowl with toxic contaminants.

“We all joke that we’re going to end up with big lumps in our throat so we can afford our rents,” said Nate Zubal, 29, an interior designer in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where many residences and businesses sit atop a layer of spilled fuel oils. “A cleanup is pretty important with so many people living so close.”

The Bloomberg administration supports the Superfund designation for the creek, although it lobbied hard against one for the Gowanus Canal, in Brooklyn, out of fear that it could derail lucrative development projects. (The Environmental Protection Agency prevailed and gave the Gowanus Superfund status in March.)

While the E.P.A. calls Newtown Creek one of the nation’s most heavily polluted waterways, oil is hardly the only problem. In samples of the sediment and surface water, the agency has also found sewage from system overflows, as well as pesticides, metals and PCBs from decades of industrial activity.

Officials say that Superfund designation for the creek could come as early as September, opening the way for a thorough federal assessment of the extent of the contamination and the cost and duration of a cleanup.

“The Superfund designation means that this water body will be evaluated in its entirety, which has never happened to date,” said Angela Carpenter, a branch chief in New York with the E.P.A., which runs the Superfund program.

State officials say the Superfund cleanup could last more than a decade.
Under the program, the E.P.A. requires the parties responsible for contaminating the site to pay to reverse the damage. BP, Exxon Mobil and Chevron are expected to be among the parties enlisted.

The cleanup would deal only with the water and sediment in Newtown Creek, not the contamination underneath the adjacent land in Greenpoint (the Superfund program excludes strictly petroleum cleanups). But environmental and community groups say the designation will help prevent oil from leaching into the water from the land as it has in the past.

“Everyone is excited about getting the job done,” said Katie Schmid, director of the Newtown Creek Alliance, an advocacy group. “You need federal oversight of the whole project to ensure effective remediation.”

While the creek itself awaits a cleanup, oil companies are continuing to recover oil from their property in Greenpoint, an effort that began over two decades ago after the Coast Guard first spotted evidence of oil seepage into the creek in 1978. Since 1990, Exxon Mobil, BP and Chevron have removed about 11.1 million gallons of spilled oil, state officials say.

The pace has been too slow for Greenpoint residents, environmental groups and the New York state attorney general’s office, which all have lawsuits pending against some or all of the companies for the pollution. (Negotiations are under way to settle suits filed by the state and Riverkeeper against Exxon Mobil.)

BP’s role was mostly inherited: Its petroleum storage terminal in Greenpoint was once home to a Mobil refinery whose operations released about five million gallons into the ground, state environmental officials say. In 1969, BP’s predecessor, the Amoco Oil Company, bought the 10-acre property. It began a cleanup in 1981 under an agreement with the city, and state officials say about two million gallons now remain to be recovered under the BP property.

The state says that BP is not meeting its schedule for collecting oil from the ground and asked that the company increase its current lineup of nine extraction wells.
Marti D. Powers, a spokeswoman for BP, said the company is adding four wells to meet state requirements, but it is fighting a lawsuit by residents. “The plaintiffs have to date not identified any spills by BP that have impacted them,” she said.

The bulk of the overall cleanup work, from the collection of oil to the treatment of contaminated groundwater before it is released into Newtown Creek, has rather fallen to Exxon Mobil.

As the main inheritor of Standard Oil, which had dozens of refineries along the creek by the end of the 19th century, Exxon Mobil owns most of the contaminated land and is responsible for an oil plume that extends under about 300 homes in a residential area of Greenpoint.

Carolina Asirifi, a spokeswoman for Exxon Mobil, said the company’s 20 operating recovery wells were pumping as fast as was safely possible — currently at a rate of about 2,000 gallons of oil and a million gallons of groundwater a day.

“Exxon Mobil has been working extremely hard,” she said. “We’ve made significant progress.”

Residents fear that toxic gases will penetrate their homes from below. A state Department of Environmental Conservation study in 2006 found no oil-related vapors in samples of indoor air, although a comprehensive study of the health consequences of the spills has yet to be carried out.

As the community awaits the Superfund decision and more detailed analysis, the proposed designation has spawned a kind of creek boosterism.

“We’re turning the corner,” said Ted Gruber, chairman of the Long Island City Community Boathouse, whose members often venture into Newtown Creek in canoes. “People like us are paddling in greater numbers. People are beginning to care.”


September 28th, 2010, 07:27 AM
U.S. Cleanup Is Set for Newtown Creek, Long Polluted by Industry



The Environmental Protection Agency has designated Newtown Creek, between Brooklyn and Queens, a Superfund site, promising a thorough environmental cleanup of a long-neglected waterway that was once one of the busiest hubs of industrial activity in the city.

The Superfund designation, which was announced on Monday by the agency’s regional administrator in New York, Judith Enck, means that the E.P.A. will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the severely polluted creek to determine what kind of cleanup is needed and to identify continuing sources of pollution. Community advocates, environmental groups and members of Congress had long sought the designation out of concern about the extent of contamination and its possible danger to residents.

The creek, about four miles long, is now the second active Superfund site in the city. The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, another waterway suffering the consequences of its industrial past, was placed in March on the Superfund’s National Priorities List, a designation reserved for the worst-contaminated sites in the nation.

Six other Superfund sites across the country were also chosen on Monday, including a section of the Black River in Jefferson County, N.Y., that was contaminated with P.C.B.’s and other chemicals. P.C.B.’s, or polychlorinated biphenyls, can cause cancer and affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems, according to the E.P.A.

“Newtown Creek is a key urban waterway, which provides recreational and economic resources to many communities,” Ms. Enck said in a written statement. “Throughout the investigation and cleanup, we will work closely with the communities along the creek to achieve a revitalization of this heavily contaminated urban waterway.”

Water samples from Newtown Creek, a branch of the East River and part of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary, have revealed the presence of pesticides, heavy metals, P.C.B.’s, volatile organic compounds and other contaminants. Despite the continuing pollution problems, the agency noted, residents use the creek for recreation like kayaking and fishing, and some eat the fish they catch.

The creek’s polluted condition also reflects countless oil spills from the dozens of refineries and fuel storage centers that have operated along its banks since the 19th century.

Those spills — estimated to total 17 million to 30 million gallons, as much as three times the amount dumped off the Alaska coast by the Exxon Valdez in 1989 — have polluted an aquifer and hindered economic development as they made their way into both the creek and surrounding neighborhoods.

The Superfund cleanup will address only the water and sediment in the creek, not the contamination beneath the adjacent land in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Oil companies, including Exxon Mobil and BP, which still has an active petroleum storage terminal by the creek, are recovering spilled oil from beneath their Greenpoint properties in a state-supervised cleanup that began after the Coast Guard first spotted evidence of oil seepage into the creek in 1978.

The oil companies are among the first six responsible entities identified by the E.P.A. under the Superfund program to help pay for the creek’s cleanup. The city, which began dumping raw sewage into the creek in 1856, is one of the six responsible parties — to date, the city has not fully stopped sewage overflow from going into the creek on rainy days — and is also expected to be financially liable. Agency officials said there was no estimate of how much the city could have to pay.

The E.P.A.’s environmental investigation and cleanup could take 10 to 15 years, and agency officials said they expected the cost to exceed the $300 million to $500 million that work on the Gowanus Canal is expected to cost. The inquiry will begin with a feasibility study, and the cleanup will most likely involve some dredging, Ms. Enck said.

In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Ms. Enck said the agency was focusing on urban waterways because “if they’re clean, they can provide tremendous recreation and economic opportunities for millions of people.”

Some advocates say the designation should bring cohesion to the cleanup efforts in the area. Residents, environmental groups and the New York State attorney general’s office have lawsuits pending against some or all of the oil companies over the pace and effectiveness of their remediation work.

“This is the only way that Newtown Creek is going to get cleaned up, with federal oversight and resources, so we’re very excited,” said Katie Schmid, director of the Newtown Creek Alliance, an advocacy group.

Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, who represents the area and had pushed for the designation for years, said that in the community meetings she held, residents were more concerned about toxic vapors and other air pollution rising from the creek and land than with any stigma of the Superfund label on development or property values.

“There’s a consensus of support” for a comprehensive cleanup, Ms. Velázquez said. “I am very happy.”

The Bloomberg administration supported the Superfund listing for Newtown Creek, in contrast with its opposition to the designation for the Gowanus Canal. In the case of the Gowanus, the city had come up with an alternative plan that officials said would have led to a quicker cleanup and avoided scaring developers away from an area already scheduled for significant commercial and residential development.

The E.P.A., however, decided that the Superfund designation would guarantee the best results and ensure that polluters covered all the costs.

“What’s going to get the job done fastest and more efficiently?” said Caswell F. Holloway, the commissioner for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. “In the case of Newtown Creek, we believe the Superfund process is the way to do that.”

Ms. Schmid noted that the designation did raise concerns about how the Superfund study and cleanup might affect existing projects, like construction of affordable housing and plans for new public spaces. Residents and business owners also have said they were worried about increased truck traffic and restrictions on use of the creek, which some businesses rely on to ferry scrap metal and other goods.

Ms. Schmid said these were among the issues neighbors and local groups would be addressing with the agency as the Superfund project got started.


September 28th, 2010, 09:34 PM
I'm not trying to second-guess the experts, but I can't believe it'll take that long. Especially the Gowanus Canal, which looks like it should be in emergency mode. I hope it doesn't get mired in red tape & bureaucracy like the new WTC. This cleanup is sorely needed right now.

October 2nd, 2010, 06:27 AM

October 2nd, 2010, 09:13 PM
Cool link cmandala. Thanks.

October 3rd, 2010, 09:44 AM
Newtown Creek would have been remediated in a matter of months if NYC had won the 2012 Summer Olympics. You couldn't build Olympic Village in Hunters Point adjacent to a waterway with poor water quality.

October 3rd, 2010, 08:25 PM
Yes, tens of millions or even hundreds of millions in potential income for NYC would have been a great motivator. Isn't money wonderful?

October 22nd, 2010, 06:28 AM
Newtown Creek Celebrates Superfunding With...a Boathouse?

October 21, 2010, by Sara Polsky


Some people may look at a photo (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/08/25/sailing_meets_sewage_on_the_long_island_city_rivie ra.php) of pleasure boats parked on Newtown Creek and see danger and ickiness. But others see opportunity! Fresh off the polluted waterway's Superfund designation (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/09/27/newtown_officially_nasty.php), a Community Board 1 member has proposed the creation of a Newtown Creek boathouse in the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center warehouse at the end of Manhattan Avenue. The plan, described in the Brooklyn Paper (http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/33/43/wb_kayakssidebar_2010_10_22_bk.html?utm_source=fee dburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBrooklynPaper-FullArticles+%28The+Brooklyn+Paper%3A+Full+article s%29), includes boat storage space, a boating training center, a restored bulkhead, and a public pathway. Timeline: four years. Since the creek cleanup could take 10 years, we hope the training center will have wetsuits for rent.

Meanwhile, group pitches new boathouse (http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/33/43/wb_kayakssidebar_2010_10_22_bk.html?utm_source=fee dburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBrooklynPaper-FullArticles+%28The+Brooklyn+Paper%3A+Full+article s%29) [BK Paper]
Newtown Creek coverage (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/newtown-creek) [Curbed]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/10/21/newtown_creek_celebrates_superfunding_witha_boatho use.php

October 25th, 2010, 02:44 PM
This new book is the second best ever published covering Newtown Creek:

Newtown Creek for the vulgarly curious
by Mitch Waxman

Travel the length of Newtown Creek, the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City. 68 pages exploring the rich history and troubled past of the most polluted body of water in the United States, recently added to the Superfund list by the Federal EPA.

What is the best book ever published about Newtown Creek?

November 2nd, 2010, 06:49 AM
Taking On the Sludge at Newtown Creek

Perkins+Will teams up to study the future of post-Superfund waterway corridor

Bill Millard

Newtown Creek, a former salt marsh on the Brooklyn-Queens border, has suffered from pollution through the years.
Pocius / Flickr

On October 5, 1950, a subsurface methane/ gasoline explosion blew 25 Greenpoint manhole covers three stories skyward and shattered glass in some 500 buildings. This was only the most dramatic event in the long decline of Newtown Creek, the former salt marsh at the Brooklyn-Queens border. Over the years, the 3.8-mile shipping channel and nearby groundwater have absorbed massive quantities of petroleum products, plus heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls, volatile organic compounds, and other contaminants. A water treatment plant also pumps in a mix of stormwater and wastewater. The creek has no current, but its problems do not sit still: Tidal movements and combined sewer overflows affect the whole local estuary.

“We took core samples from the Riverkeeper boat back in December 2005,” said Phillip Musegaas from the environmental watchdog group of the same name. “It doesn’t even look like sediment. It basically looks like gelatinous black ooze, and it smells like petroleum.” Some call it “black mayonnaise.”

Without attracting the publicity of an Exxon Valdez or a Deepwater Horizon, Newtown Creek has quietly become New York’s grimmest example of what industries can do to water. Nearly two centuries of abuse, however, are winding down. On September 27, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added Newtown Creek to Superfund’s National Priorities List, bringing federal expertise and enforcement muscle to the site’s multiple remediation efforts.

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/newtown_creek_02%281%29.jpgNewtown Creek has absorbed an array of harmful pollutants through the years.
Verbunkos / Flickr

The Newtown Creek Alliance, Riverkeeper, and nonprofit developer Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Group (GMDC) have now hired Perkins+Will, along with engineers Gannett Fleming, for a ten-month planning project, funded under the state’s Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) program. Investigating 1,000 acres in Newtown Creek’s watershed, the team will identify three sites for interventions aimed at transforming the area to a greener waterfront and a healthier aquifer. The deliverable result, said Perkins+Will’s Philip Palmgren, will be a report envisioning Newtown Creek’s evolution two, five, 10, and 30 years from now. The project also includes public meetings, which began on October 28.

Five corporate landowners (ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron/Texaco, Phelps Dodge, and National Grid) have joined forces as the Newtown Creek Companies, focusing on land-side remediation, while Superfund efforts focus on the creek. These firms, said spokesman Sam Ostrow, have been working with the EPA for a while and with the City of New York as well, “so the project really is not affected by the listing.”

The area’s problems are not limited to petrochemicals. Used for whale-oil refining since the 1830s, Newtown Creek also hosted fertilizer and glue factories, copper-smelting plants, coalyards, tanneries, and other industries. Refineries began producing (and spilling) kerosene, gasoline, and naphtha in the 1860s through the late 1960s. Dredging and bulkheading in the late 19th century converted the creek to a wholly industrial channel where diverse firms discharged waste. Longstanding contamination from multiple sources makes it difficult to identify individual polluters, but the end product is distinctly hazardous. The new BOA study recognizes that the creek remains commercially active; unlike many studies, it does not consider the site to be abandoned or anticipate conversion to residential use after remediation (as at nearby Hunter’s Point South, where the city’s mixed-use masterplan awaits revived private investment). Palmgren notes that its M3 zoning is unlikely to change, even as environmental concerns, market vectors, and PlaNYC 2030 push firms toward greener technologies.

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/newtown_creek_03%281%29.jpgRemnants of industry lining the banks of Newtown Creek.
Verbunkos / Flickr

“The point is not to take away industrial uses,” Palmgren said, but to “introduce open green space into manufacturing zones.” Simply dredging the creek is impossible because the city relies on keeping the water-treatment plant running. The Superfund process, Palmgren said, represents “one of the original public-private partnerships... it isn’t simply that the feds take over the effort. The feds actually help find the responsible parties, [which] put a certain amount of money into the cleanup, and the private entities then are responsible for the cleanup as well.” It’s a contentious process, he admitted.
Paul Parkhill, director of planning and development at GMDC, said, “We’re looking for everybody’s ideas, but we’re putting it in a framework of industrial redevelopment. It’s a significant maritime industrial area, and we’re interested in working with the folks on the ground to figure out what 21st-century industry looks like.”

The challenge is to manage that transition, retaining or even expanding employment, while maintaining essential operations during remediation. “It’s not a matter of driving someone out,” said Palmgren. “It’s that the markets will adjust. How can we make Newtown Creek part of that adjustment rather than being left as a brownfield that has no industry, no jobs, no manufacturing, because the city is moving away from petroleum-based energy?”


November 4th, 2010, 03:57 PM
There will be a meeting of the Newtown Creek Alliance in about two weeks.

MERRY, I expect you to be there.

November 4th, 2010, 04:15 PM
MERRY, I expect you to be there.

Don't count on it: Quantas has grounded the entire airbus fleet (http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/11/04/singapore.qantas.incident/) - getting a flight from the 'out-back' to NYC will be a bear (http://www.solarnavigator.net/animal_kingdom/marsupials/koala_bear.htm). (LOL)

cheers mate

November 6th, 2010, 05:47 AM
There will be a meeting of the Newtown Creek Alliance in about two weeks.

MERRY, I expect you to be there.

Wish I could CMANDALA, but it is a long way to go :). And I'm just starting to enjoy the warmer weather here :cool:.

If you're going, I'd be very interested in how it goes.

November 18th, 2010, 05:59 AM
Exxon Mobil has agreed to pay $25 million and commit to a more thorough cleanup of its huge oil spills along Newtown Creek and a faster timetable for the process, according to a settlement announced on Wednesday by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo.


Photos taken at yesterday's news conference at Manhattan Avenue.


Also see http://www.newtowncreekalliance.org/

January 21st, 2011, 05:00 AM
‘Walk’ this way! City to expand Newtown Creek nature path

By Aaron Short

The Newtown Creek Nature Walk will double in size over the next two years
now that the city has secured funding for its expansion.

Greenpoint’s four-year-old Newtown Creek Nature Walk will nearly double in size thanks to new city funding.

The city has budgeted $14-million to connect the existing Provost Street entrance to a new 900-foot pathway to Kingsland Avenue and N. Henry Street, giving the public even more unfettered access to the fetid waterway.

The Nature Walk, which includes sculptural seating, steps that descend into the waterway, and a boat launch, is already the largest publicly owned site on the edge of Newtown Creek. As such, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway said it was a no-brainer to fund the latest phase of construction.

“It wasn’t a difficult decision,” said Holloway. “I want it to get built and done so it can’t be rolled back.”

The $3.2-million walk opened in October, 2007, to mixed reviews after some residents criticized the design, the park’s far-flung location, and odors that wafted off the creek — which has since been declared a federal Superfund site.

In recent years, community members have warmed up to the spare elegance of the George Trakas-designed concrete walkway, its peaceful surroundings and the easy access to Newtown Creek.

The city has not hired Trakas for the additional phases of the nature walk including a floating walkway and a stone pathway with native trees and shrubs. Instead, the Department of Design and Construction will begin planning the new portion this July.

The existing portion of the nature walk will also face changes this year.

The city has already moved a set of planters at the foot of the pathway, may remove a railing at the steps of the pathway that lead straight into the water, and agreed to allow kayakers to launch boats from the site after a lengthy debate this fall.

Community leaders embraced the news that the walk will be expanded, but chided city officials for skimping on maintenance costs for the existing park; currently the agency is paying about $30,000 per year to maintain the pathway — about half the amount required to properly maintain it, critics say.

“Some parts of the walk are disintegrating, and it hasn’t been there all that long,” said Paul Turci, a Greenpoint resident and member of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee.

http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/34/3/wb_naturewalk_2011_1_21_bk.html?utm_source=feedbur ner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBrooklynPaper-FullArticles+%28The+Brooklyn+Paper%3A+Full+article s%29

February 25th, 2011, 08:12 PM
Newtown Creek: Brooklyn Shores

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-b1I9Fz93k9A/TWRs1QIvkxI/AAAAAAAACvE/79md9W63kOQ/s450/kensinger_DSC_5882_small.jpg (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-b1I9Fz93k9A/TWRs1QIvkxI/AAAAAAAACvE/79md9W63kOQ/s1600/kensinger_DSC_5882_small.jpg)
(click to enlarge)

In winter, the Brooklyn shores of the Newtown Creek are a desolate industrial wasteland. Large swaths of shoreline sit empty, dead zones with toxic chemicals beneath. Scrap yards, gas refineries and truck depots line the streets. Sidewalks are covered in icy mounds of debris, hibernating in the snow, waiting for a thaw to rot. Near a shiny new sewage treatment plant, a lonely memorial is strapped to tree trunk. Cars missing doors sit under bridges. Dirt roads, electric fences, barbed wire and graffiti are prevalent.

more from photographer, Nathan Kensinger (http://kensinger.blogspot.com/2011/02/newtown-creek-brooklyn-shores.html)

August 23rd, 2011, 12:53 PM
Flipping thru this @ Borders on Sunday. Excellent pictorial for those who are interested.

Newtown Creek: A Photographic Survey of New York's Industrial Waterway (http://www.amazon.com/Newtown-Creek-Photographic-Industrial-Waterway/dp/1568988583/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314117890&sr=1-1)
by Anthony Hamboussi (http://wirednewyork.com/Anthony-Hamboussi/e/B003BX0G4I/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1314117890&sr=1-1) (Mar 10, 2010)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Z2K16vS0L._AA160_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/Newtown-Creek-Photographic-Industrial-Waterway/dp/1568988583/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314117890&sr=1-1)

August 23rd, 2011, 05:19 PM
Let's be serious for a moment, Newton Creek will never be any sort of a remotely aesthetically pleasing area. It's a total dump, lets just get it over with and fill it in already. A side benefit would be razing the Kosciuszko Bridge to take the BQE over land to fix that mess of a traffic choke point

August 23rd, 2011, 07:54 PM
You don't think they could save it, even if it takes a couple of decades?

August 23rd, 2011, 09:48 PM
I'm sure you can make nice walkways and some green strips of grass, but the neighborhoods the creek runs through are apocalyptically ugly. Industrially neglected for many many decades and planned haphazardly (if at all). It's also one of the most polluted places in NYC, I suppose it's always possible to make something of it but I don't see where that kind of (epic) determination and money would come from.

August 24th, 2011, 11:42 AM
Has it been designated a superfund site? Nothing in the early articles on this thread indicate that it has.

August 24th, 2011, 03:13 PM
Has it been designated a superfund site? Nothing in the early articles on this thread indicate that it has.

I believe it has been, yes.


August 25th, 2011, 01:36 PM
Looks like it will be mired in red tape for years. They're doing the same thing with a site in upper Ringwood NJ that Ford used as a dumping site from '67 to the early '70s. The Ramapough Tribe who lives up there would salvage some of what Ford dumped. The kids would play Cowboys & Indians & use the paint sludge that was dumped to paint their faces. Everyone swam in the creeks & rivers.
Years later, people started dying of cancer at an abnormal rate. EPA lists, de-lists, then relists (rare) the site as a superfund. Ford cleans some, but not all of it. You can overturn rocks & still see paint sludge on the bottom of them. Ford maintains that they weren't the only ones dumping there. Ramapough sues Ford; back & forth for years, Ford settles with them for millions, but divided between 600 people it averages about $22,000 each. Some get more some get less. Ford has been stringing them along because they know the people don't have resources, but lawyers who are committed to helping them are involved, & congress has heard the case, although I don't know what the outcome was.
There is an excellent HBO documentary titled "Mann vs. Ford". Some people interviewed suggested there were back room deals between the EPA & Ford to lessen Ford's responsibility in this thing. Worth watching.

August 27th, 2011, 07:04 PM
Is this a recent documentary mariab?

August 27th, 2011, 09:29 PM
Yes, 2011. If you don't have HBO, you can probably view it from their website since it ran a few times already. There may be other websites offering it also.

August 28th, 2011, 06:29 PM
Okay, thanks much.

August 29th, 2011, 12:07 PM
I grew up on the other side of the mountain from there (Ramapo mountains, that is).

That area was very sparsely populated, and I am not surprised at all that some industry would take it as a dumping ground... :(

November 1st, 2011, 06:07 AM
Charming :eek:.

Greenlit Boathouse for Greenpoint's "Fetid" Newton Creek


Let the record show that the state of New York is fully willing to let Greenpointers kayak in polluted waters. Reversing an earlier decision kowtowing to the Bloomberg administration's fears that a public boathouse at the end of Manhattan Avenue would endanger residents, the state has approved the $3 million Newtown Creek building. The boathouse, which will house storage for 40 kayaks and a "nautical education center," will now come with a safety manual "that reminds kayakers to avoid swimming in the fetid creek, eating fish and crabs in from the creek, or boating within three hours of a rainfall, when sewage spills into the canal."

State approves Greenpoint boathouse (http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/34/44/dtg_newtownboathouse_2011_11_04_bk.html) [Brooklyn Paper]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2011/10/31/greenlit_boathouse_for_greenpoints_fetid_newton_cr eek.php#reader_comments

November 1st, 2011, 08:35 AM

They need to correct the problems BEFORE making it a real estate "treasure".

November 1st, 2011, 10:12 AM
Yes, correct = backfilling the whole thing with 30 feet of cement

November 1st, 2011, 11:17 AM
NO.....this area has great potential. You only need to 'see it' to 'believe it'. I am extending on open invitation to any WNY member to take a kayak tour of Newtown Creek: just send me a PM and we will start putting the trip plans together. The group will be limited to 3, so I can not accommodate all requests for the tour. PM me any time. Cheers

February 23rd, 2013, 12:35 AM
How the Newtown Creek Area is Faring After the Storm

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/01_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0574-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/01_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0574.jpg)

[Despite severe flooding during Hurricane Sandy, the city has plans to create two massive residential developments at the mouth of the highly polluted Newtown Creek. All photos by Nathan Kensinger (http://kensinger.blogspot.com/).]

"The storm was a good thing," said Mitch Waxman, looking down into the murky waters of the Newtown Creek, "in that it raised people's awareness. It's kind of the wake up call to this archipelago city of ours." As the author of The Newtown Pentacle (http://newtownpentacle.com/), Waxman spends most of his free time exploring the side streets of the Newtown Creek, a Superfund site between Brooklyn and Queens that is one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States. During Hurricane Sandy, the creek surged past its banks, inflicting enormous flood damage along its entire 3.5 mile length, leading to evacuations, illness, and millions of dollars in repairs. And yet at the mouth of this polluted industrial waterway, where the surge flooded entire neighborhoods with millions of gallons of water, the city plans to build a pair of massive new developments—Greenpoint Landing and Hunter's Point South—which will bring tens of thousands of new residents to this flood zone.

"Do you really want to have residential so close to the water?" asked Willis Elkins of the North Brooklyn Boat Club, who watched from a bridge as the storm flooded from the Newtown Creek into Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Elkins has canoed every inch of the Newtown Creek, observing firsthand the slow return of nature to a blighted waterway. "I would like to see some of the areas converted back to salt marshes and wetlands that would act as a sponge for storm surges," said Elkins. "I'd love to see oyster reefs around the harbor." The city, however, is insistent on plans to increase population density throughout New York's flood zones. In his recent State of the City (http://www.mikebloomberg.com/index.cfm?objectid=D46D1B83-C29C-7CA2-FEF9341031963FE9) address, Mayor Bloomberg announced that Greenpoint Landing would bring 5,000 units of Zone A housing to the Newtown Creek's mouth. "Our administration has fundamentally changed the way we conduct waterfront development," said Bloomberg. "But Sandy raised the bar—and now we must rise to the occasion." What will this mean for the Newtown Creek?

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/02_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0425-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/02_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0425.jpg)

"Its pretty easy to see how it happened," said Mitch Waxman, standing on a bridge above the Dutch Kills, an offshoot of the Newtown Creek where millions of gallons of water flooded ashore into Queens, submerging Hunter's Point and Long Island City. "Basically a bubble of water came up the Newtown Creek."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/03_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0444-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/03_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0444.jpg)

"This was a raging torrent," said Waxman, looking down Borden Avenue, where the storm surge from the Dutch Kills rushed past industrial businesses and into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, filling it with 30 million gallons of polluted water. "In Dutch Kills, they've got typhus, gonorrhea, and cholera."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/04_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0277-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/04_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0277.jpg)

"I'm 50 yards away from Borden," said Long Island City resident Nicholas Knight, whose ground level apartment is across the street from the Queens Midtown Tunnel entrance. "If that stuff hadn't gone into the tunnel, I think it would have come here." His home in evacuation Zone B was miraculously not submerged, but was surrounded by water. "We really were a little peninsula."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/05_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0539-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/05_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0539.jpg)

At the Murano building, around the corner from Knight's apartment, residents were evacuated after the storm surge cut power to the building and "backed-up sewage pipes spewed six feet of feces into the basement," according to the Queens Chronicle (http://www.qchron.com/editions/western/hunters-point-businesses-cleanup-damage-from-hurricane-sandy/article_8341db26-8261-5717-ad98-662bcf133603.html). The building, named after an island in Italy, is located at the edge of Zone A, as are many of the new luxury residential towers that have sprung up in the area.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/06_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0568-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/06_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0568.jpg)

In Long Island City, "you are surrounded by water, more then you realize," said Willis Elkins. The neighborhood was flooded from three directions, with water from the East River, the Newtown Creek, and the Dutch Kills. The city, though, is moving forward with its plans for Hunter's Point South (http://www.nycedc.com/project/hunters-point-south), a mega-project which will put 5,000 new units of housing into the flood zone at the mouth of the Newtown Creek.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/07_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0244-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/07_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0244.jpg)

City Harvest (http://www.cityharvest.org/), a business which provides food for the homeless from its headquarters at the mouth of the creek, lost its entire fleet of trucks during the storm. "There was no distinguishing between river, lot and land," said Mitch Waxman. When Hunter's Point South is complete, City Harvest will be replaced by two residential towers rising up to 400 feet.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/08_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0255-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/08_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0255.jpg)

Greenpoint Landing will be built across the creek from Hunter's Point South, also in Zone A. It will replace land used for truck parking, playgrounds, and movie shoots, on the same street where several buildings suffered severe flood damage during the Hurricane Sandy.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/09_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0005-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/09_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0005.jpg)

"The impacts were wildly different from property to property," said Kate Zidar, the executive director of the Newtown Creek Alliance (http://www.newtowncreekalliance.org/). At the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC), water flooded the basement electrical system, according to Zidar, while next door at 99 Commercial Street, "a labyrinth of artist spaces and galleries were flooded."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/10_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0303-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/10_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0303.jpg)

"It was more of a state of emergency then people realize," said Kristana Textor, a Greenpoint resident who lives in Zone A. "The police had a van going by with an announcement saying mandatory evacuation," said Textor. "We had food, we had water, we had a go bag packed...we decided not to evacuate."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/11_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0010-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/11_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0010.jpg)

During the storm surge, the Newtown Creek "came up through the sewers," said Textor, flooding Greenpoint from beneath the streets. Water emerged from sewer grates along McGuinness Avenue, flooding past the Box House Hotel. "The water that was lapping at our front door was brown sea water," said Textor. "I can only conclude it was water and sewage."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/12_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_9842-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/12_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_9842.jpg)

At the end of Textor's block is the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the largest sewage treatment plant in New York City. During the storm, "Newtown Creek Plant itself never stopped operating," said Kate Zidar, but was surrounded on all sides by floodwaters. "It was a moat."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/13_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_9779-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/13_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_9779.jpg)

Alongside the millions of gallons of raw sewage being processed at the plant's digester eggs, "they have huge amounts of toxic chemicals," said Kate Zidar, which are used to treat the sewage. "That would be really disgusting and a problem if the sewage treatment plant flooded," said Kristana Textor.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/14_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_9949-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/14_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_9949.jpg)

Down at the creek's edge, the North Brooklyn Boat Club's headquarters were "totally flooded," according to Willis Elkins. "We figured it might it might flood but we didn't think it would be four feet." Since the storm, Elkins has taken several canoe trips out onto the creek. "It was really nasty—the oil slicks on the creek stayed for a week or so."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/15_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0367-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/15_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0367.jpg)

"It's almost like the storm surges are just one more thing to worry about," said Elkins. The boat club didn't suffer severe damage, but their neighbors across the creek at the Hunter's Point Sailboat Sanctuary lost at least one boat during the storm. "I thought they were done for."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/16_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0167-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/16_kensinger_newtown_creek_DSC_0167.jpg)

"These storms are going to become larger and more frequent," said Kate Zidar, who worked with Riverkeeper and GMDC to create the Newtown Creek BOA (http://www.newtowncreekboa.org), a comprehensive, award-winning plan for the area. "If we have a larger flood on the Newtown Creek, we are going to see the impact on the residential zone in a much more dramatic way."

—Nathan Kensinger

Official site: Nathan Kensinger (http://kensinger.blogspot.com/) [kensinger.blogspot.com]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/02/22/how_the_newtown_creek_area_is_faring_after_the_sto rm.php

November 19th, 2014, 12:36 AM
The cat looks more than a little worse for wear, not to mention this whole sorry area.

Photos: Explore The "Poison Cauldron" Of Newtown Creek

by Lauren Evans

(photos by Tod Seelie / Gothamist)


http://galleries.gothamistllc.com/asset/546a61d5afcf1d61310cfd06/square/PoisonCauldron-TodSeelie-1.jpg http://galleries.gothamistllc.com/asset/546a61d5afcf1d61310cfd06/square/PoisonCauldron-TodSeelie-5.jpg http://galleries.gothamistllc.com/asset/546a61d5afcf1d61310cfd06/square/PoisonCauldron-TodSeelie-7.jpg
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Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman points out the
arbitrary line demarcating what the city deems "safe" for habitation.

Newtown Creek, one of (http://gothamist.com/tags/gowanuscanal) the outer boroughs' finest channels of radioactive fecal matter, has captured the imagination of urban explorers and amateur historians around the city—understand the history of Newtown Creek, and you're on your way to knowing a hell of a lot about New York's industrial past.

You'd be hard-pressed to find an explorer more enthusiastic about the creek's past and present than Mitch Waxman. Known as the official historian of the Newtown Creek Alliance (http://www.newtowncreekalliance.org/), his interest in Ole' Black Mayonnaise was born a few years back when his doctor told him he had to start running, for the health of his heart. But "having grown up in Brooklyn, the only thing that’s gonna make me run is if something’s chasing me," he said. He took up walking as a compromise, bringing a camera along with him to document anything interesting. Turns out he found plenty to photograph.

"You have this urban nightmare in the middle of the city—I call it the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens," he told us during an interview last week. "It’s an absolute wonderland. If you’re into infrastructure, if you’re into tug boats, any of the big industry stuff— phew, you just found heaven."

Waxman offers regular tours (http://www.atlasobscura.com/events/poison-cauldron) of what he refers to as the "Poison Cauldron," a three mile expanse of Greenpoint that covers the site of the disastrous Greenpoint Oil Spill (http://gothamist.com/2010/11/18/exxon_to_pay_25_million_for_greenpo.php) and the damned Kosciuszko Bridge (http://gothamist.com/2010/02/19/kosciuszko_redux.php). "Everybody knows the oil story over at Greenpoint, but that’s just a part of the oil story of Newtown Creek," he said. "If you were to drop back a hundred years in time to the first World War, there was more traffic movement along the Newtown Creek than the entire Mississippi River."

The first part of the tour leads participants past sites of various quondam refineries, the most important of which was Standard Oil, eventually to become Exxon Mobil. Waxman said the company still has a visible presence along the water, apparent to anyone who knows where to look: "They have a whole series of wells which are slurping up the Greenpoint oil spill (http://nymag.com/news/features/32865/). They do it very quietly, but they have several hundred recovery wells operating all over the area."

Most, he said, are camouflaged by other businesses or hidden behind fences. But why? "If you heard that there was free petroleum flowing out of the ground, you’d be over there with a bucket in ten minutes," he said. It's happened before: "About 15 years ago, there was some guy in Greenpoint who decided to set up a drill in his backyard. He was actually trying to harvest oil from the Greenpoint spill to heat his house." But once the drill punched through the limestone crust that sits beneath Greenpoint, the entire neighborhood began to reek of oil. "Apparently DEC had to drive around with specialized equipment to track down where this was, and at this guy’s house, they find a derrick in his backyard," he said.

Tourgoers then move along to the Meeker Avenue plumes, a concentration of "hazardous vapors (http://www.newtowncreekalliance.org/community-health/meeker-ave-plumes/)" composed of chemicals that continue to hover over the ground—the noxious specter of dry cleaners past. It then ambles past the former Penny Bridge, which was replaced by the Kosciuszko Bridge in 1939.

Waxman cheekily refers to the area below the bridge as DUKBO—(Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Overpass)—"simply because I think we should get ahead of the real estate guys on this stuff." Unlike its Manhattan Bridge counterpart, DUKBO is populated not by wealthy loft owners and a well-manicured park, but a concentration of waste transfer stations, which together process around 40 percent of the 12 million tons of trash New York generates on a given day.

Waxman says his Poison Cauldron tour gives inquisitive New Yorkers a rare chance to pull aside the filth-streaked curtain and take a look at the inner-workings of their city. "Ninety-nine percent of New Yorkers don’t know Newtown Creek is there. They don’t know what happens to their garbage after it gets picked up, they don’t know where the gasoline in their car comes from, and they really have no clue about what these communities look like," he said. "I operate under the concept of 'it’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.' Mainly I'm trying to build some awareness so people can make their own decisions."

By offering people a glimpse of the past, Waxman says he also hopes to inspire thoughts about the future. "The community really needs to start thinking about what they want the Newtown Creek of 2100 to look like. Do we want to think about it as an industrial base that even today supplies 18,000 blue collar jobs? Do we want to start thinking of converting it over to some sort of public space, or green space?"

"I just want people to start becoming familiar with the area, and understanding the consequences of the lifestyle we all lead."

Several more pics at Gothamist (http://http://gothamist.com/2014/11/18/newtown_creek_photos.php#photo-1)

February 16th, 2015, 01:19 AM
Greenpointers Officially Approve Newtown Barge Park

February 15, 2015, by Rowley Amato

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/54af4759f92ea1355a02a789/newtownbargepark_20150108_02.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/54af4759f92ea1355a02a789/newtownbargepark_20150108_02.jpg)

Despite some recent hiccups (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/01/09/greenpointers_air_concerns_about_waterfront_park_o n_the_way.php#more), Brooklyn Community Board 1 has officially given the go-ahead to the Newtown Barge Park (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/newtown-barge-park) plan in Greenpoint, Bedford+Bowery (http://bedfordandbowery.com/2015/02/newtown-barge-park-wins-cb-1s-support-but-greenpointers-still-want-a-dog-run/) reports. On Tuesday, the board's Parks and Waterfront Committee unanimously approved the project, with a few recommendations attached to their endorsement.

According to chairman Phillip Caponegro, CB1 has suggested that Newtown Barge Park's proposed esplanade ought to be "less linear in design whenever possible." They also suggested additional green elements along the water and an ongoing public arts program in the park. In the proposed Box Street Park (which will neighbor Newtown Barge), the board also hoped to secure promises of a basketball court, a handball court, and a dog run, with that last one seeming to be a big sticking point in January's meeting.

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/54af4758f92ea1355a02a782/newtownbargepark_20150108_01.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/54af4758f92ea1355a02a782/newtownbargepark_20150108_01.jpg)

The board's support is also contingent on the Parks Department bringing forward its plans for Box Street Park at an earlier date than the Newtown plans, so that the committee and local residents might have more time to comment on the designs.

Construction on the $7 million project is expected to begin in early 2016.

Newtown Barge Park Wins CB 1′s Support, But Greenpointers Still Want a Dog Run (http://bedfordandbowery.com/2015/02/newtown-barge-park-wins-cb-1s-support-but-greenpointers-still-want-a-dog-run/) [B+B]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/02/15/greenpointers_officially_approve_newtown_barge_par k.php

March 21st, 2015, 03:04 AM
Imagine a Newtown Creek Lined with Glassy Towers

March 19, 2015, by Jeremiah Budin

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/550ad1bbf92ea11f7200236b/20140225-ew-aerial-final-sharp1.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/550ad1bdf92ea11f7200236e/20140225-ew-aerial-final-sharp1.jpg)

As with the equally polluted (give or take) Gowanus Canal, it seems like only a matter of time before the banks of Newtown Creek give way to large-scale residential development, and to get things started architectural firms Avoid Obvious Architects and Studio C Architects have designed just such a development (http://aoarchitect.us/projects/east-williamsburg/) for a currently industrial East Williamsburg site, on spec. One of the architects told NY YIMBY (http://newyorkyimby.com/2015/03/vision-east-williamsburg-waterfront-redevelopment.html), "we hope to find the right investors in China." The plan consists of three glassy towers connected by planted walkways. One of the towers would be condos (naturally), one would be a hotel, and the third would be "dedicated as artist's studio." (The entire thing? Apparently.) The renderings do raise some questions, though, such as: at what point did the barren industrial wasteland of East Williamsburg turn into a lush forest? Also: why is there an approximately 20-foot statue of two horses fighting in the lobby of (what has to be the art studio) building? Presumably, these questions will be answered in time.

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/550ad1bef92ea11f72002376/20140205-ew-street-final.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/550ad1c0f92ea11f72002379/20140205-ew-street-final.jpg) http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/550ad1c3f92ea11f72002380/20140131-ew-plan_final.jpg

(http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/550ad1c5f92ea11f72002383/20140131-ew-plan_final.jpg) http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/550ad1c7f92ea11f7200238a/Screen%20Shot%202015-03-19%20at%209.21.58%20AM.png (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/550ad1c8f92ea11f7200238d/Screen%20Shot%202015-03-19%20at%209.21.58%20AM.png) http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/550ad1caf92ea11f72002394/Screen%20Shot%202015-03-19%20at%209.22.28%20AM.png (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/550ad1cbf92ea11f72002397/Screen%20Shot%202015-03-19%20at%209.22.28%20AM.png)

East Williamsburg (http://aoarchitect.us/projects/east-williamsburg/) [Avoid Obvious]
Vision: East Williamsburg Waterfront Redevelopment (http://newyorkyimby.com/2015/03/vision-east-williamsburg-waterfront-redevelopment.html) [NY YIMBY]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/03/19/imagine_a_newtown_creek_lined_with_glassy_towers.p hp

March 21st, 2015, 11:09 AM
Maybe if you give it 100 years