Newtown Creek Alliance
We in Greenpoint know better than to swim in the toxic, bacteria-laden Newtown Creek. We might soon be exposed to the contents of the creek regardless through a proposed aeration plant that would go in the Dutch Kills area of the creek.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is accepting public comment on the matter through Monday, April 4, and the Newton Creek Alliance drafted a letter in strong opposition (PDF) to the current plan.
The process of aeration increases the water’s oxygen content levels to support marine plants and fish, which were depleted after a century’s worth of industrial pollution and wastewater overflow. The air bubbles travel from installed pipes at the bottom of the creek, releasing oxygen bubbles — but the air doesn’t stop there.
A 2012 study by researchers at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found that the air bubbles transfer bacteria to the air near English Kills, an especially contaminated mile-long area of the creek in Bushwick, Brooklyn. A pilot aeration system was launched at English Kills in 2009. Continue reading
If you walk along Greenpoint Avenue toward Queens, you will eventually approach North Henry Street, which appears to be a private road for the Wastewater Treatment Plant. A little-known fact is that the street is open to the public and leads to a city-owned Newtown Creek access point.
This access point — and the plans to revitalize once-thriving marshlands — were discussed last week at Sunview Luncheonette in Greenpoint. Willis Elkins, program manager at the Newtown Creek Alliance, presented his team’s “18 months of historic analysis” and forward-looking vision for the decrepit shoreline. While the plans are still in their early stages, NCA’s goal is to reintroduce an ecosystem that can also provide natural protection against rising waters. Continue reading
Recent city investigations have revealed new information about two major health concerns for Greenpoint residents: details on the contaminants—and the plans for clean-up—in one of the nation’s most polluted waterways, Newtown Creek; and the locations of and possible health problems associated with Monsanto’s potentially cancer-causing Roundup, which can be found in many of Greenpoint’s green spaces.
Is it the Streetcar Named Desire for the people of New York, or is de Blasio’s proposed streetcar linking Brooklyn and Queens a developer’s fantasy in the making? In either case, here’s what we know so far.
We know slightly more about the L Train Shutdown than we did last week. Brace yourselves, because it seems as though “1 year vs. 3 years” was a generous estimate.
It only took a year, but the reports from the CitiStorage fire investigation have been wrested into public view by The Brooklyn Paper. The fire was allegedly sparked by a light fixture, subdued, and then reignited. Kind of weird that department reps maintained their line that the investigation was ongoing, even though investigators signed off on the report on Jan. 8. Continue reading
Over on the lonesome eastern shore of Greenpoint, where massive tulip-shaped structures loom large over the horizon and process sludge from outer-borough toilets, life is beginning anew. Continue reading
Greenpoint Avenue is a Bike Blockers clusterfuck, according to WNYC. Most of us might be willing to make exceptions for vans delivering smoked salmon, however.
Perhaps fitting that owner Deniz Kosan chose our charming toxic wasteland as the proper setting for his Breaking Bad-themed Turkish coffee shop, but a Walter’s Coffee Roastery may just provide some pleasant smells for once.
Not convinced that life can prosper in Newtown Creek? Come down to the Newtown Creek Alliance’s North Henry Street location this Sunday afternoon (from 12-4) to check out its Living Dock project. Greenpointers will be on the scene to provide verified coverage of this scientific marvel. Continue reading
“I’m gonna keep you alive, I promise!” says Mai Armstrong, member of Newtown Creek Alliance.
It’s Saturday morning – a scorcher, by the way – and a group of 31 culture enthusiasts from all over New York have assembled by St Anthony’s Church for a free two-hour guided walk of Newtown Creek (and environs) as part of Jane’s Walk NYC. One woman, an ex-resident, has brought her two daughters from Manhattan to check out the old ‘hood. It’s a beautiful day, and we bristle with anticipation. Continue reading
A black-crowned night heron. Several swallows, cormorants, and geese. One lone white duck. These were some of the birds seen on this Saturday’s canoe trip to Plank Road, which was a collaboration between the Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) and the North Brooklyn Boat Club. The paddlers, many out for their first trip on New York’s waterways, remarked on the stunning juxtaposition of active and crumbling industrial sites alongside a very living, if troubled, ecosystem. They traveled up the Newtown Creek and met up with a land-based group to hear from historian Mitch Waxman about this peculiar site that the NCA is looking to revamp in the coming months.
Thanks to Newtown Creek Alliance and North Brooklyn Boat Club for organizing this fun canoe trip on the Newtown Creek. While nature in the way of lush forests and crystal clear running streams is far from the scenery along this industrial waterway, “nature has returned to the creek,” our guides explained, which is a good sign.
Among the many birds we spotted were cormorants, swallows, cardinals, a great egret, an entire flocks of cormorants, a catbird and a few geese who were demonstrating a curious behavior of swimming along the creek’s edge with their necks down low on the water.
We were very excited to also see blue crabs, oysters, small fish and jelly fish!
I won’t say it didn’t smell, in some parts worse than others. Mostly they were industrial gas and crude oil smells. There was a lot of garbage floating, capri sun containers, potato chips bags, tampons, and I won’t say that I didn’t cringe every time even the most minuscule drop splashed on my arm or even worse right near my lips.
When I asked Jens of NBBC what would be the protocol if someone fell in and swallowed a mouthful of water, he said he would recommend getting a Hepatitis test since the biggest pollutant on the creek nowadays is human excrement.
The most striking feature of the tour was when we canoed up to a partition between the creek and a combined sewage overflow, CSO area. That is where rainwater mixed with sewage from the treatment plant overflows after heavy rain. The water on our side of the partition was very clear, protected from – wait for it – “floatables.” On the other side, where an unknowing egret was hunting, was thick putrid sludge leading from the huge overflow pipe.
When we returned to the boat club dock I was never so excited to wash my hands, especially the spot of water that turned brown on my arm.
Canoeing up the creek is something that everyone should experience, at least once. If not for the birds – for the reality check. Modern conveniences like toilets and sanitation make us forget the impact we have on our own environment. While the creek is on its way to becoming a less vile place, it’s still the toilet of NYC, and we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to it, especially since it is becoming a viable place for our own native fauna.
Bonus: Laura Hoffman, locally famous environmental hero for Greenpoint, who was a plaintiff in a 2004 lawsuit against ExxonMobil for contamination of Greenpoint and the Newtown Creek that won $19million for an environmental projects fund, was on the same canoe trip! I was honored to finally meet her.