The Newtown Pentacle

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stupendous spectacle

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If you smell something, say something.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In January, the new DEP Sludge Boat Hunts Point was described in this Newtown pentacle posting.

The boat’s arrival was the first part of a complicated story, and the next chapter will involve some heavy equipment arriving on the Newtown Creek in around two weeks time. According to official sources, an oft rescheduled interval of municipal dredging will begin the week of March 17th, with the intention of opening a navigational channel for the new sludge boats from the East River, all the way back to Whale Creek at the sewer plant.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Concerns about odor and disposition of the materials removed from Newtown Creek have been largely dismissed by the mid level DEP personnel running the operation, although community groups like the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee (this is one of the ones I’m “with”) have asked pointed questions and demanded that odor control procedures be put in place. The municipal contractor will be DonJon towing, and they will be equipped with some sort of foam based system to cover the Black Mayonnaise sediment when it’s deposited in a barge – should it begin to afflict the residential properties on either side of the Creek with a smell or odor issue.

DEP will be releasing a document next week, for “community outreach,” as it were. The word from on high is that 311 is primed to deal with odor complaints – so if you live in LIC or Greenpoint – If you smell something, say something and call 311 to complain. 

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Disturbingly, our commonly held employees at DEP do not wish to detail what will happen to the materials removed from the waterway. There was some discussion about the different end destinations for it – they considered several industrial facilities practiced in the handling and disposal of toxic sludge – but there has been stony silence in response to queries about the details of the plan.

How will the material be handled, upon Newtown Creek and beyond? Will it receive primary treatment in Greenpoint or in Queens or somewhere else? If it’s going to be along the Creek that the DonJon barges are emptied and cleaned, where will that happen? How will the material be transported out of the area – by truck, barge, or rail?

Our employees in municipal government have let us know that it’s really none of our business.

This is an important issue, as when EPA begins its dredging operation for the Superfund cleanup, they will likely look at the process which DEP created for this far smaller dredging effort. More to come on this one, Lords and Ladies.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 6, 2014 at 12:33 pm

6 Responses

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  1. WOW, I hope this is not simply transferring one superfund site to another…. even if it is 3 miles deep in the canyon………Where is the NYS DEC on this?? JK Ps Just hot wind of this site a few months ago………….GREAT PICTURES….

    maidstone2@aol.com

    March 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm

  2. Did they decide to classify this as “hazardous waste” or no? I remember they talked about that last year at a CAG meeting and didn’t think it needed such classification, which was surprising to me. Wondered if it was a way to linguistically detoxify the waste to avoid a more costly disposal option.

    If haz waste, I bet it’d likely be disposed at the CWM hazardous waste landfill in Niagara County, NY (just down the road from Love Canal and not too far from the Great Lakes, 20% of the world’s fresh surface water), the only in NYS, and the only haz waste landfill in the northeastern United States. I’ve been working with a group up there that’s been fighting the expansion of this landfill for many, many years. See http://rrgwny.com

    Or alternatively a hazardous waste incinerator, which is probably worse.

    Mike Schade

    March 6, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    • Turns out its West Virginia. This will be discussed at NCMC meeting on Thursday if you’d like to know more.

      Mitch Waxman

      March 10, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      • Thanks Mitch! Can’t make the meeting (are those meetings open to the public BTW?) but would love to hear how it goes!

        Mike Schade

        March 11, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      • Ask Laura T or Christine, they can forward you the minutes afterwards. I’m sure I’ll do a post on it.

        Mitch Waxman

        March 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm


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