The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for January 7th, 2021

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few more from the Gowanus Dredging operation today, and since the pursuance of getting these shots required no small amount of physical hardship for a humble narrator, we’re staying on the subject for a bit longer.

As mentioned earlier in the week, one woke up a couple of hours before sunrise in Astoria on the literal other side of a very Long Island, then suffered frigid middle December conditions on the East River to get here, and having dodged heavy trucks the entire morning on the streets of Red Hook and Sunset Park, the two eggs with ham and swiss on a roll which I had for breakfast had long ago burned away. It had also been multiple hours since I had drank anything, and the combination of fatigue and an empty fuel tank were beginning to set in. The diesel exhaust didn’t help.

I go to these places so you don’t have to, Lords and Ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The material being scooped out of the Gowanus Canal gets shipped elsewhere for processing. The Superfund people at EPA aren’t exactly forthcoming about where the material gets sent, but I’d venture a guess about that as being somewhere in New Jersey and likely not too far from Bayonne. I can offer a conjectured description about what happens to it afterwards, though.

First, excess moisture will be mechanically removed either by centrifuge or compression. The freed liquid is fed into a wastewater treatment process, one not dissimilar to what happens at a sewer plant. Pollutants and contaminants are filtered out, the water is cleaned up, and then released. The filtered contaminants are combined with the dewatered solids. Secondly, the solids are sterilized, dried, and combined with an inert material like concrete. The concrete is formed into blocks, the blocks get shipped off somewhere for disposal. That somewhere is likely a tapped out underground mine which will be sealed off once full of these now inert blocks.

When Newtown Creek’s process begins to manifest physically, it will look a lot like the shots in this week’s post, just on a grander scale.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is included, one which I’m fairly sure is of the Third Street Bridge, as I’ve never seen this particular span open before. This didn’t seem to be part of the dredge operation, rather it looked like the NYC DOT (owners of the thing) were performing some sort of maintenance on the thing.

A bit more of this Southwest Brooklyn action tomorrow.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, January 4th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.

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Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 7, 2021 at 11:00 am

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