Tag Archives: Gowanus Canal

Newtown Creek sludge project nearing completion


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

JEFF STONE

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is celebrating the end of a month-long project in Newtown Creek that, if successful, will eventually make the water running through Ridgewood, Maspeth and Greenpoint much more inviting.

DEP crews have been traveling through the contaminated creek since the end of March, cleaning up silt, industrial waste and untreated sewage overflow that has been left largely undisturbed since the 1970s. The project, which is expected to be fully complete by no later than the end of April, aims to make Newtown Creek passable for a new fleet of DEP sludge vessels that will transport wastewater from elsewhere in the city to a new facility deeper inland.

Sludge vessels can be seen six days a week traveling through the East and Hudson Rivers, transporting sludge (semi-solid material leftover from industrial wastewater or sewage treatment) to decontamination facilities. Those facilities then extract any harmful materials and dump the clean water back into rivers around the metro area.

Yet, despite its status as one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the city, Newtown Creek is not currently equipped with its own dewatering plant. Sludge from the area is transported through a pipeline under the East River to a wastewater treatment plant in Greenpoint. City officials hope to soon use that valuable Brooklyn real estate for affordable housing and a new park, but the first step in removing the treatment facility is cleaning Newtown Creek.

Step one, for the most part, is finished. Environmental officials said that barges will be taking their final trips through the area using sonar technology to ensure that a new fleet of sludge vessels will be able to travel through without incident.

“Most likely there will be a few spots where they have to touch up and lay a fresh layer of sand down,” a DEP representative said Friday. “The barge and dredge machinery will be on Newtown Creek for at least another week or so, but the majority of the work will be completed by this weekend.”

Before the project began last month, DEP officials and nearby residents were concerned that the stirred-up silt bed would omit a smell of rotten eggs into the spring air. The very notion was enough to prompt a flurry of social media activity from Queens and Brooklyn residents alike. None of the dire predictions came to pass, though, thanks to the crews’ round-the-clock reliance on air and water quality monitors.

“The fact that there’ve been two complaints and all of our monitoring indicates that we’re well within our acceptable limits, everything has gone smoothly,” the spokesman said.

Work at Newtown Creek is a symptom of a citywide effort to equip designated priority areas like Gowanus Canal, Jamaica Bay, Flushing Bay and the Bronx River with green infrastructure. The city will spend $2.4 billion over the next 20 years on treating wastewater and rain overflow before it enters New York’s waterways.

 

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UPDATE: Dolphin stranded in the Gowanus Canal dies


| hchin@homereporternews.com


Update 7 p.m. — The dolphin that had been stranded all day in the murky and poisonous waters of the Gowanus Canal finally succumbed to its injuries, dying at around 6 p.m. tonight

——- Earlier —–

Emergency crews are attempting to rescue a stranded dolphin that has been bobbing up and down and swimming in the massively polluted and toxic-to-all-marine-life Gowanus Canal, beneath the Union Street bridge since at least 1 p.m. this afternoon, say onlookers.

According to NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the NYPD Harbor and Emergency Service Units are on the scene along with marine mammal experts from the Riverhead Foundation.

However, rescuers are going to wait for high tide at 7:10 p.m. “to see if the dolphin can free itself” and will assist “in the morning” if and when Riverhead personnel decide it necessary to aid it in escaping.

The dolphin-sighting was first reported by the folks over at the Red Hook Lobster Pound, who tweeted the news out at 1:05 p.m.

Curious and concerned residents are lined up on the bridge, watching the dolphin, whose grey skin is covered in a coat of black residue. He may be bleeding from the dorsal fin.

The Gowanus Canal is a designated Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency, which just this week held community meetings with residents of Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, and Red Hook to present their multi-year plan to clean up the toxic waters, which is polluted with a century’s worth of industrial and chemical waste, sewage and more — measuring in the parts per hundreds, versus parts per millions, as is typically found in the rest of the country.

The Canal is not habitable to sustaining any form of marine life. The last time an animal became stranded there was in 2007, when a minke whale died before rescuers could guide it out to open waters.

 

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