The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Riverkeeper

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Happy 50th Brithday, Riverkeeper.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I finally got to shoot a Kennedy. 

In this case, it was Robert Kennedy Jr., while onboard a NY Water Taxi celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Riverkeeper organization. Mr. Kennedy, who in addition to being an environmental attorney and President of Riverkeeper, has a degree in history – offered the assembled group an absolutely fantastic encapsulation of the history of the Hudson River and spoke about the role and history of Riverkeeper in NY Harbor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Before I continue, my continuing practice of listing my conflicts of interest and personal prejudices must be enacted – Newtown Creek Alliance has had a LONG and deep connection with Riverkeeper. Current DEC Commisioner and former Riverkeeper official Basil Seggos, and Riverkeeper Attorney Philip Musegaas are both former board members of NCA.

Additionally, I have enjoyed the company and tutelage of Riverkeeper’s patrol boat Captain, John Lipscomb, on more than one occasion, and Riverkeeper’s current representative in my part of the world – Sean Dixon – is both a friend and ally of Newtown Creek Alliance and our goal to “reveal, restore, and revitalize” Newtown Creek.

Riverkeeper, as an organization, are the “good guys” in my opinion and I consider being in the company of the organization on this important milestone for them both an honor and a privilege.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Robert Kennedy Jr. – suffice that whatever you want to say about the storied political dynasty from which he descends, when this fellow starts speaking – you pay attention. Kennedy described the formation of Riverkeeper from the Hudson Fisherman’s Association, and its role in cleaning up the notoriously polluted Hudson River over the last half of the 20th century and its expansion into other domestic waterways and now international efforts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, as someone who has always identified with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, a humble narrator was absolutely stoked just to be in the same room (or cabin) with him. That’s an actual leader you’re looking at above, and a bit of rock star at that. I’m not alone in this view, of course, and several of my colleagues from Newtown Creek and activists from the larger Harbor of New York and New Jersey were also invited onboard to celebrate the anniversary.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another “actual leader” is Paul Gallay of Riverkeeper. Mr. Gallay assessed Riverkeeper’s current efforts and made a cogent case against the continuing operation of the shoddily constructed and badly managed Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant which is just 45 miles from Manhattan.

He also discussed the so called petroleum “bomb trains” which have begun populating the rail system in upstate New York, and Riverkeeper’s ongoing battle to ensure a swimmable and fishable state for all of New York’s waterways – big or small.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, it was quite rainy and cold when we were out on the NY Water Taxi. I managed to crack out one shot of the surrounding scenery, as evinced above.

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Walking Tour – Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

First Calvary Cemetery Walk.
Join Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman at First Calvary Cemetery, found in LIC’s Blissville neighborhood along Newtown Creek. Attendance limited to 15 people.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 19, 2016 at 11:00 am

The Blissville Oil Spill, update

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queries were sent out to various parties about the status of the Blissville Oil Spill on the Newtown Creek, and this statement was received from the good folks at Riverkeeper:

“Riverkeeper is concerned about the apparent lack of maintenance of both the hard and absorbent booms that are supposed to be keeping oil from seeping into the Creek,” said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director at Riverkeeper. “We take any oil pollution in the Hudson River and NY Harbor extremely seriously, and fully expect DEC and the site owner to do the same.”

As an admission, these shots were gathered on board the Riverkeeper patrol boat, whose Captain was gracious enough to consent to my request to get close to the Blissville site.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The situation of the Northern Bank of the Newtown Creek, in Queens, was first commented on at this- your Newtown Pentacle- in the December of 2011 posting “An oil spill… in Queens“, and further views were presented in March of 2012 in “Blissville Update“.

Kate Zidar, executive director of the Newtown Creek Alliance (a group of which I am a member and for which I serve as historian) said:

“If we have learned anything from the Greenpoint Oil Spill it should be that seepage from the bulkhead can indicate a much larger issue for the adjacent neighborhood. We can’t claim ignorance of what the seepage at this Blissville Site could indicate. We need to understand the extent of this contamination and get the right mitigations in place ASAP.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It should be mentioned that private conversations with State and City officials have continued, but not too much seems to be happening. The investigation into the matter is seeking out culpable parties, and deciding on a course of action to follow. In their defense, the officialdom referred to above very well might be legally constrained from public comment at this point, so I’m willing to give them a pass.

For now.

Of course, while everyone is figuring out who to sue, oil is still seeping out into the water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s no secret that the short end of the stick, from a municipal point of view, is offered routinely to Queens (and the Bronx) by the powers that are. Neither is it a revelation that if this were an ongoing event on the Hudson River that everybody from the Mayor and Governor on down would be posing next to it and rendering funding to seal things up tight.

This is however- the Newtown Creek- and in particular on the side of the Creek where the borough motto should be “Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself”, and I said that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent posting at the Newtown Creek Alliance website, detailing what Riverkeeper’s patrol experienced during a rain event on the Newtown Creek, showed that these booms are easily swept out of position but “Welcome to Queens”. This event has been ongoing since mid 2011 but “Welcome to Queens”. Wells sunk at nearby properties already administered by environmental officials have revealed some seven feet of oil sitting over the water table, but “Welcome to Queens”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lords and Ladies, how long is long enough for oil to be directly seeping into area waterways?

Look at what is happening on the surface here and ask yourself the familiar question- Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?

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