Just briefly, here are some facts from the article (cleverly titled ‘A Problem Rises to the Surface in Greenpoint’):
1. Nearly 30 million gallons of petroleum have found their way to Newtown Creek.
2. Toxic gasses, mainly from chemicals used for dry cleaning and degreasing metals, may be rising from beneath our streets into our homes and businesses.
3. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has been met with some resistance when it comes to conducting tests in Greenpoint.
The third point is perhaps the most disturbing. Home owners who are afraid of their buildings being condemned have either reluctantly allowed the testing or have not returned the department’s requests to enter their premises. One Greenpointer hit the nail on the head when he commented that it boils down to two different mindsets when it comes to the issue of pollution: there are the people who have been living in the neighborhood for a long time and perceive themselves as fine and then there are the people that want answers.
While this is a sensitive issue, the side effects from these gasses aren’t just sore throats and coughs. We are talking organ damage and cancer. This doesn’t have to be some big Erin Brockovich situation where secrets and tragedies are uncovered but knowing what we are breathing and how its affecting our health is our right. I’m also not a home owner so I can’t relate to the fear of losing that particular investment; however, I would categorize allowing air quality testing as a civic duty as not allowing it has the potential to cost other people their lives.