Get in line for the cruise of your life...the sludge boat

How many people can say that they live in a neighborhood that has scheduled dredging? That’s something to brag about, kind of like when you have a really disgusting, oozing leg wound that you really want to show people, just to prove to them that it’s super gross.

Beginning this week, the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection will run a 6 week process of removing the “sediment and debris” that collects under Newtown Creek. That’s a nice way of saying runoff trash, sewage, and whatever else drifted from the streets (dead rats? needles? chicken nuggets?) and decided to solidify on the bottom of our very own urban waterway. Some lovingly call it “black mayonnaise,” which to clarify, is not the name of an artisanal sandwich spread or an underground EDM festival.

So why are they dredging this mass of non-identifiable “sediment”? Because DEP needs to demolish a sludge tank to make way for “affordable housing” i.e. Greenpoint Landing, which will be built on the site of the aforementioned tank. And when you demolish one sludge tank, you need a new place to store your sludge (obviously), which is why they are building a new tank at Whale Creek (next to the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant), where future sludge vessels will dock. The dredging needs to be done to “navigate to the new doc,” which we think means that the waterway is too dirty for moving sludge.

Ok, let’s take a step back. The way this works is that waste sludge from the Treatment Plant (that’s basically soupy, processed human shit) is piped to a storage tank, where it is transferred to a sludge boat that takes it to Wards Island for processing.

So back to the dredging, which, again, is like raking the sordid floor of Newtown Creek, and as of this week, will take place 24 hours a day on water barges. I forgot to tell you the best part! Shame on me. Here it is: during the dredging operations, as DEP explains, “hydrogen sulfide gas trapped in the sediment may be released….this gas has a strong odor of rotten eggs.”


In conclusion, if the entire neighborhood smells like a sulfur bath from hell, now you know why. I would explain more, but I’m late for my Sludge Cruise.  It’s like the new juicing, except instead of losing weight, you end up on Ward’s Island with many, many diseases.

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  1. Multiple Choice (choose one):

    When musing on Newtown Creek ….

    A. My forehead contracts into a whirlpool of a wrinkle making my lower lip protrude like a lamprey out of a paint bucket.

    B. My tongue tugs my bowels towards my ears stoppering my eyes with murky apprehension.

    C. My nostrils keep rhythm to my digestive enzymes scrambling for cover along the grated surface of my esophagus.

    D. My palms clasp my knees as my glottis flaps freely into the morning breeze.

  2. So George Klein aka Greenpoint Landing buys this waterfront parcel now occupied by the Sludge Tank from the City of New York for a mere $2M. This site will be for one of the Towers (the “affordable” housing is actually being built at 33 Eagle not the Sludge Tank site. So the braintrust in government who made this crappy deal only to reap $2M, now have to dredge the Newtown Creek, build a new sludge tank, and demolish the old one. What will this cost all of us taxpayers? $15M? $30M? Only Greenpoint Landing benefits from this. What a crappy deal. Thank you Messrs Bloomberg, Levin, et. al.

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