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Thread: Newtown Creek

  1. #46


    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    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...

  2. #47


    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.

  3. #48

    Default Newtown Creek Cruise July 8

    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:


  4. #49

    Default NCA Meeting May 15 2007

    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.

  5. #50

    Default New York Magazine

    Ten million gallons of toxic gunk trapped in the Brooklyn aquifer is starting to creep toward the surface. How scary is that?

  6. #51


    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

  7. #52


    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.

  8. #53


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

  9. #54


    I'm not saying it should, I'm just a bit surprised that it doesn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Should this situation have a statute of limitations, and what should it be?

  10. #55

    Default Newtown Creek Nature Walk

    September 29, 2007 Nature Walk Opens

  11. #56


    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.

  12. #57
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


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

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

  13. #58



    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    Which ^^^ does not make the GE / Hudson dumping permissable, legal or wise.

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

  14. #59


    Quote Originally Posted by MikeW View Post
    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.

  15. #60


    U.S. Officials Will Review Pollution in Waterway

    Published: August 26, 2008

    The federal Environmental Protection Agency 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 of Manhattan and Brooklyn and Anthony D. Weiner 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 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, the state attorney general at the time, agreed to look into the matter, and in 2007, Mr. Spitzer’s successor, Andrew M. Cuomo, 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 The New York Times Company

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