The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Sims Metal Management’ Category

wide remark

with 2 comments

It’s National Cheese Souflee Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So far, I’ve never tired of seeing the old Koscisuzcko Bridge from the roadway of the new one, but then again its only been around three weeks that the thing has been open. One is curious as to the reactions all of y’all have had at the sight of the new span, how it’s been working out for you so far, all that sort of thing. I’m on the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, so if there’s something specific or pithy you’d want me to bring to officialdom, let me know and I’ll pass it on to the powers that be.

Today’s first two shots were captured from behind the windshield of a car, in case you’re wondering. What I was doing in an automobile, of all things, is something which I’ll tell you about in a future post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The driver of the car I was in is one of my neighbors from back here in Astoria, if you’re curious, but I had engaged his services in the context of his being a professional and TLC licensed driver. Again, I’ll tell you why I needed a ride at a later date. Our path didn’t just include a crossing of the Koscisuzcko Bridge, but also involved a trip into the City as well. That’s the Roosevelt Island Tram hurtling over the Queensboro Bridge, pictured above. Very exciting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of weeks ago, I conducted a Newtown Creek tour for a group of European college students, and my pals at Sims Metal Management were gracious enough to allow the group to visit the Newtown Creek Pier facility maintained by the recycling company. Sims has a contract with DSNY to handle the “MGP” or “metal, plastic, glass” recyclable trash we put out on the curb, and they were engaged in the process of collecting it from the white packer trucks maintained by the agency for the task. The stuff ultimately gets barged out to another Sims facility, where it’s sorted.


Upcoming Tours and events

Newtown Creek Alliance Boat tour, May 21st.

Visit the Newtown Creek on a two hour boat tour with NCA historian Mitch Waxman and NCA Project Manager Will Elkins, made possible with a grant from the Hudson River Foundation – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

unequal heating

leave a comment »

Creek Week concludes, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Kosciuszcko Bridge replacement project pictured above, with the 1939 Robert Moses model bridge providing a backdrop to the under construction cable stay model. That’s the Brooklyn side, for the curious. This is a $1.2 billion replacement effort, “fast tracked” by Governor Cuomo, which is intended to replace what’s considered to be the most dangerous bridge in New York State – which happens to carry hundreds of thousands of vehicle trips a day as the Brooklyn Queens Expressway runs across its 2.1 mile long structure (along with its approaches).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were captured while onboard a NY Water Taxi hired for the evening by the Open House NY organization, and my colleague T. Willis Elkins and I were onboard to represent Newtown Creek Alliance and narrate to two sold out crowds. The second trip was heading back out from the Newtown Creek towards the East River just as sunset was occurring, and as always – Newtown Creek was and is a visual spectacular.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been trying to capture as many angles and shots as possible of the old Kosciuszcko Bridge for a couple of years now, simply because within the next 24-36 months it will have been eradicated from common memory.

This whole “Newtown Creek Historian” business isn’t just about revealing the past, it’s about leaving behind a visual record for those who haven’t been born yet about what the place looked like during its superfund and early 21st century transformational period.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve mentioned it before, but the plan which the State DOT has put forward is that once the eastern side of the new bridge is complete, they are going to reroute the BQE onto it. Then, they’re going to demolish the 1939 model, and in its footprint, build the western section of the new cable stay bridge. The great news about that is that there is going to be a pedestrian and bicycle path on the western side of the bridge.

One looks forward to walking the camera across, and getting aerial shots from up there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The burning thermonuclear eye of God itself was setting in the west as our NY Water Taxi navigated back towards the East River. That’s Blissville in Queens on the right hand side of the shot above, and the former location of not just Charles Pratt’s “Queens County Oil Works” but just about the very spot where the first large scale oil refinery in the United States – Abraham Gesner’s “North American Kerosene Gas Light Company” was founded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the Brooklyn or Greenpoint side of Newtown Creek, the former home of the Standard Oil Company of New York and birthplace of what would be one day known as Mobil Oil is closest to the camera, which are now the ExxonMobil Greenpoint Remediation Project properties at 400 Kingsland Avenue.

Sitting on part of the former oil company properties in Greenpoint is the NYC DEP’s Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

DUGABO – or Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp – is the heart of petroleum country on Newtown Creek. Greenpoint Avenue heads west into Brooklyn, terminating at the East River at Transmitter Park, whereas it continues into Queens and once having crossed Queens Blvd. – it transmogrifies into Roosevelt Avenue and continues all the way out into Flushing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From a maritime industrial point of view, the DUGABO area surrounding the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge is probably one of the busiest sections of Newtown Creek in the 21st century. SimsMetal and Allocco Recycling host regular tug and barge traffic, as does Metro fuel.

In the distance is the Pualski Bridge and the towers of the Shining City of Manhattan.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, August 6th, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. –
Insalubrious Valley Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club. Click here for more details.

Sunday, August 14th, 11:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

Sunday, August 21, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Poison Cauldron Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

fetter upon

with 2 comments

Wandering the post industrial wastelands of America’s Work Shop – that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted the numeral above in LIC recently, adorning the loading dock of some nameless warehousing company housed in the former Waldes Koh-I-Noor site nearby Dutch Kills. The Real Estate Industrial Complex recently discovered the former Degnon Terminal, it seems, and the Waldes buildings are currently being marketed as “The Zipper Building” by the powers that be and to opportunists who have connected themselves to LIC as some sort of stepping stone from Wall Street.

As a note, five is the only prime number that ends with the number five. It’s also the only number which seems to be entirely European in origin, having little verisimilitude to Arabic or Indian glyphs that represent the number. There’s five senses, five books in the Torah, five wounds of Jesus, five pillars of Islam, and in western music – a perfect fifth is considered to be the most consonant of all the harmonies. In geometry, there’s the Pentagram, and of course – you’re reading the pentacle.

Five.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of Dutch Kills, when you see a structure of creosoted logs held together with iron, as you do nearby the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge – the official term for this sort of thing is a “dolphin.” It’s meant to vouchsafe the bridge against an accidental collision by maritime traffic, but since there’s little to no maritime traffic on Dutch Kills – a tributary of the legendary Newtown Creek – these days, it’s just a thing to take pictures of.

There’s twelve former trees, infused with creosote oil, in that shot above.

Twelve is thought to be a Germanic/Old English term describing the smallest composite number which has exactly six divisors. It’s the largest number that has a single syllable name in the English language. A cube has twelve edges, the human body has twelve cranial nerves. The Western zodiac has twelve signs, as does the Chinese variant, and the 12th moon of Jupiter is called Lysithea.

Twelve.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant Nature Walk in Greenpoint, should you have a medium long zoom lens on your camera, you can observe the Sims Metal Management Company at work – processing all sorts of metallic things. In the case of the shot above, it’s derelict cars in the process of being recycled. After collection at Sims on Newtown Creek, these automobile carcasses will be barged out to New Jersey where they will be fed into a shredder that will reduce them down to metallic bits and a cloud of dust.

As I count it, there’s eighteen automobiles in the shot above.

The number eighteen translates from the Hebrew word for it (Chai) as “Life.” There’s 18 chapters in the Bhagavad Gita, which is part of the 18 book Mahabharata. Chinese tradition declares the number eighteen as a lucky one. Eighteen in binary code is “10010” which is a seven block long zip code in Manhattan – from 20th to 27th, and from Sixth avenue to the East River.

51218, you ask?  According to the National Institue of Helath, that’s the numerical designation of a gene we inherited from our single cell ancestors.

What all of this means, I can’t say, but it’s kind of freaking me out.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Sunday, May 8th at 11 a.m. – North Henry Street Project,
with Municipal Arts Society Janeswalk and Newtown Creek Alliance,
in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

untold number

with 13 comments

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The site walk through which Sims Metal Management offered me was just coming to an end when the car carrier, pictured above, arrived. My tenders offered that we should move to a safe distance and accordingly we circled around to an opportune spot with efficacious lighting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These cars were compacted and processed by a separate company, and Sims purchases them. Gas tanks and volatile fluids have been removed, as well as other proscribed components. Sims will be sending this off to another one of their facilities to be shredded, which I suspect will located in New Jersey.

If so, this report from videos.nj.com describes the incredible shredding machine which will make short work of these autos, literally reducing them to pellet sized grains of metal in seconds, which is called the Mega Shredder.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, the posting “seething column” offered animated gifs of the action depicted in today’s post. It is hard to describe the sensation of seeing recognizable objects of calculable weight and substance being handled and swung about by the Materials Handler with such seeming ease.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One after another, the autos came off the carrier and were subjected to a little extra dose of compacting. The Materials Handler would rear up and then smash its current charge on to the pile. It was all very exciting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The device itself utilized the installed claw tool to grasp and tear and crush. It’s a Sennebogen, manufactured by a German corporation which is operated by a single family and was founded by an enigmatic sire, not unlike the fabled deutschland clan called Steinway who left such an indelible stamp on the surrounding communities.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Soon, the truck was emptied and the autos deigned for shredding piled neatly on the dock.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One by one, they were all loaded on to a waiting barge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My visit came to an end soon after, and we headed back toward the front gate. On the way, the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy upon the terminal was described as we toured the generator room and some of the other interior spaces at the facility.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Special thanks are offered for allowing one such as myself, and by extension- all of you Lords and Ladies of the Newtown Pentacle- into the Sims Metal Management Queens terminal for a day. Special thanks to Daniel Strechay, Dave, Paul Lawrence, and especially Tom Outerbridge for inviting us in for a visit.

Upcoming tours:

The Insalubrious Valley– Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

temperamentally unfitted

leave a comment »

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vast precautions were advised in this section of the Queens Terminal of Sims Metal Management by its employees, as literally tons of twisted scrap metal were arriving every few minutes. Enormous trucks vomited the stuff noisily onto the concrete deck of this industrial pier, found in the Blissville section of Queens alongside the canalized bulkheads of Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Great powers enjoy mineral wealth, but after thousands of years of continuous civilization, certain metals will become “mined out” and any remaining material in the ground becomes impracticable to access for engineering or economic reasons.

Nations of modernity who have inherited the imperial holdings of the past, such as Turkey and China, suffer from these issues with the former lacking in iron and the latter in copper and aluminum.

Both nations enjoy considerable success in the early 21st century as manufacturing and fabrication centers, and vast and highly profitable organizations like Sims serve to feed them recyclable materials to fashion into new products.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mountains of the stuff are trucked to the Sims yard daily, where it is sorted by type and composition. An extensive list of rules, and list of materials, governing what the company is buying is available at their web site, found here. They eschew the “peddler” business here, leaving that to smaller players, many of whom are found further east on the Creek.

Peddlers are those whom I have long referred to as the “Crows,” itinerant metal collectors and mendicants who patrol area streets and snap up anything that might be shiny.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sheer quantity of scrap was intimidating, piled in conical mounds which were perhaps 20-30 feet high. Advice from the employees shepherded me was to stay clear of the vicinity. As with most of the people I’ve met in the waste handling industry, with one or two notable exceptions, these fellows were quite proud of what they were doing for a living and amiable about answering the probably idiotic questions they were being offered.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The metallic abundances are moved from dock to barge via the usage of a device called a “Materials Handler” which is pictured above. This shot is from a different day, of course, and captured at a distance from the Brooklyn side of Newtown Creek. These crane like machines are fitted with a powerful tool, resembling nothing so much than as a metallic claw, which is possessed of prodigious strength. The materials are loaded on to barges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These barges, which are essentially enormous armored buckets that float, will be picked up and transported to other Sims facilities found across New York harbor via the services of Tugboats. This terminal in Queens operates as a port of entry for recyclables into a vast region wide network which operates in not just New York State, but other municipalities as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing is, though, that despite all of the wonderful machines and engineered procedures I had witnessed to this point, the big show was about to begin. My inner seven year old began to quiver with delight when a car carrier showed up, and the operator of a nearby materials handler climbed into the cabin and started his engine. The heaviest of all metal was about to play, as Sims received a load of autos.

Upcoming tours:

The Insalubrious Valley– Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

stealthy attendants

with 4 comments

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Blissville, USA.

Found at the crux of the main body of Newtown Creek and its atavist tributary known simply as “Dutch Kills,” Sims Metal Management Queens Terminal is in deep focus this week at this, your Newtown Pentacle. My visit was prearranged with a friend who is highly placed at the corporation, and I was shepherded throughout site by its chief- Paul Lawrence, and by Daniel Strechay, a communications officer for the company.

Additionally, one of the employees whom I only know as “Dave” came along for the tour.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the DSNY discharges its curbside recycling program pick ups, employees at Sims move the materials toward an enormous conveyor belt whereupon it is lifted away from the years and toward its traveling container, which is a barge. Joyous usage of the maritime bulkheads distinguishes this facility, which ships its product out using the water. A single barge is carries the equivalent cargo of 30 trucks, and we have enough of those on our streets already.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The conveyor deposits the recyclable material onto a barge, which is outfitted with netting designed to keep the stuff onboard, despite the best efforts of the wind. This is a critical design feature, by the way, meant to keep the waters surrounding the bulkheads from accruing sediment piles composed of plastic and glass.

Last Sunday, the tug Sea Wolf was displayed handling a similar barge of recyclables while motoring down the East River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s how their municipal contract is handled here, in a nut shell, but as the global corporation’s name implies- Sims Metal Management is really all about metal.

An explanation of which material is destined for what market was offered, and destinations which included Turkey, Korea, and China were mentioned for various forms of scrap.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Feeling a bit overwhelmed at this point by the onslaught of visual stimuli, your humble narrator took a breath and contemplated the global network of shipping, commodity pricing, and man power which this midden of metal was entering into. All of it, beginning here in Blissville, in the humble borough of Queens.

Upcoming tours:

The Insalubrious Valley– Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

carefully sheltered

with 2 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Deviant gait carried your humble narrator forth from the hillocks of raven eyed Astoria, and I had arrived at an atavist pavement known only as “Railroad Avenue” in the Blissville section of Queens, a forgotten road which runs alongside that lumbering cataract of unintended consequence known as the Newtown Creek. My goal was to accept an invitation to tour the Sims Metal Management facility which might be found at its terminus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An industrial lane, Railroad Avenue is well named. Ancient track beds, dating back to the American Civil War, spread squamously across the land. Long ago, passenger service along these tracks created an indelibly unfavorable opinion of Long Island City, as locomotive travel moved past manure depots, rendering plants, acid factories, pickling houses, and yeast distilleries. Today, it is mostly freight, although just a few passenger trains still travel between Hunters Point and Jamaica along these rights of way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Petroleum industry infrastructure dominates the first section of Railroad Avenue, and upon reaching its terminus, one realizes that he has arrived at the Sims Metal Management Queens Terminal. A waste transfer station, Sims receives municipal recycling materials from DSNY, and is also a large and enthusiastic global player in the metal recycling business.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like many other industrial sites found along the Newtown Creek, Sims is off limits to the public. There is very good reason for this, as there are enormous machines which dwarf tractor trailer rigs whizzing about, and literally tons and tons of material being sorted and processed. Your humble narrator was asked to arrive with steel toe boots and appropriate clothing. Upon arriving- I was outfitted with hard hat, safety vest and glasses, and instructed by the site supervisor in the mores and habits observed by the corporation and its employees.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Procedurally speaking, Sims welcomes private and public (DSNY) recyclable material, within certain guidelines. Trucks carrying said material are weighed on an enormous scale at the gate, and the attendant creates a manifest describing what is being delivered and dispatches the vehicle to an appropriate spot to tilt and discharge its cargo. Said cargo can be anything from copper and aluminum to iron girders or automobiles.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The equipment at work here is an order of magnitude larger than what I normally witness at construction sites around the city, the rear tires on the earth mover pictured above- for instance- were 3-4 feet in diameter and seemed to be made of solid rubber or composite. Later in the day, I saw a tire change occurring on another unit, which required the presence of a specialized machine to remove tire from its axle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of particular interest were the series of white packer trucks arriving and tilting here, carrying the Department of Sanitation’s curbside recycling pickups. Sims enjoys a municipal contract with the City to handle this task, and manage the velocity of such materials back into the plastics and glass ecosystem. A variety of raw materials can be derived from the plastic in soda bottles, for instance, including spinning the synthetic fibers woven into “fleece” sweatshirts and sneakers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like every other truck entering and leaving the yard, the DSNY trucks are weighed and presented with a receipt for their drop off, for which Sims will later bill the City in accordance with their contract. It is my understanding that said remittance is built around gross tonnage of materials rather than by individual truckload.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A staggering amount of these recyclables was extant on the day of my visit, but this is just one tuesday morning’s worth of material, and isn’t it even close to the final 24 hour tally. The mound visible in the shot above was likely 20 feet high, and receded back from my vantage 20-40 feet.

Tomorrow, we go deeper into the operation and find out where to get all heavy metal on the Newtown Creek.

Upcoming tours:

The Insalubrious Valley– Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

%d bloggers like this: