Tag Archives: Greenpoint

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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Attorney general sues gas stations for Sandy price gouging


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Long lines at the pump were not the only fuel-related pains felt after Sandy.

Rapidly increasing fuel prices further victimized storm survivors. Now the state is getting back at the gas gougers.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed lawsuits against four New York gas stations and has reached settlements with 25 others for violating the gas price gouging statue immediately after the storm.

“Six months ago, as New Yorkers were sitting in lines waiting for hours to buy critical supplies of gasoline, some shady business owners were trying to make a fast buck at their expense,” Schneiderman said on Thursday, May 2.

“Today, we are sending a powerful message that ripping off New Yorkers during a time of crisis is against the law and we will do everything in our power to hold them accountable.”

The attorney general said his office received hundreds of complaints regarding post-Sandy gas price gouging and price jumps that took place up to several times a day.

An investigation into those complaints found dozens of area stations in violation of New York State’s Price Gouging Law. The statute prohibits vendors, retailers and suppliers from charging prices that reflect a “gross disparity” between prices immediately before and after a natural disaster or similar event that cannot be attributed to other factors outside of the seller’s controls.

The 25 gas stations that settled will pay a total of $167,850.

One of those stations, a Mobil at 40-40 Crescent Street in Long Island City, increased its retail markup on regular gasoline from $1.03 a gallon before Sandy to $2.08 immediately after the storm, according to the attorney general. Drivers paid $4.89 a gallon to fill up their tanks post-storm at the station.

Only one New York City gas station, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, along with three in Long Island, is named in Schneiderman’s lawsuit. Investigations are pending against dozens of other stations.

 

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