NuHart Plastics Dance Party Shutdown + Important Superfund Meeting Monday 11/02
Last night Cityfox, mega-party organizers behind Bushwick’s smash-hit Brooklyn Mirage, selected Greenpoint’s NuHart Plastics facility to host the ghouls and gals as they danced into the pale Halloween moonlight.
To the horror of the 4,500-plus ticket holders, the dancing was dead on arrival; the party organizers didn’t secure proper permits, and the Fire Department intervened, shutting the party down while people lined up to enter the Superfund Site around midnight.
The initial word is that the Brooklyn Borough President approved the party’s liquor license prior to consulting the neighborhood’s new ToxiCity Map, or local residents*. This type of event is a first for the NuHart building, where a team of workers in hazmat suits were removing asbestos just this past summer.
*Update: According to The Office of Brooklyn Borough President, “The Borough President’s office does not have the authority to approve liquor licenses; that process goes through community boards for their recommendation which is considered for final approval by the State Liquor Authority.”
According to the July 15′ report submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) by the FPM Group, an unknown source of PCBs (a known carcinogen) was discovered at the NuHart site as well. It remains unclear how last night’s partygoers were supposed to know about the contamination.
The Dupont Street Developers, led by Bo Jin Zhu, appear to be testing the large-scale event-hosting waters directly across the street from the Dupont Street Senior Center in a neighborhood known for its watch-dog activism.
The Cityfox party last night was highly anticipated, with over 8,000 RSVPs on Facebook and 4,571 tickets sold. The locations of Brooklyn warehouse parties are often revealed to ticketholders the night of by the promoter.
The party was officially being held inside the 20 Clay St. parcel of the acre-long NuHart building, the area of the building where no contamination was found during the remedial investigation.
Artificial walls and security staff can be used to keep thousands of people from entering off-limits areas during warehouse parties, that is if the organizers try and put in an effort to do so.
Cityfox organizers lack awareness for the need for reliable and ample security staff at their parties, according to Magnetic Magazine:
Another thing to point out was the severe lack of competent security. Cityfox events are particularly notorious for the high level of drug usage. Bringing back that semi-legal warehouse party atmosphere is a very exciting and extremely attractive concept, however, if you are aware of your patrons’ intentions (and you know you are) then there needs to be a level of responsibility taken upon to protect them. Throughout the night and into the wee morning, all I could see was fists being placed under noses and a lot of expressionless faces.
The Dupont Street Developers appear to have also been reckless in choosing party organizers with a poor reputation for security; neighborhood residents flooded 311 and local politicians with complaints. This misstep will clearly set the stage for tomorrow’s meeting about the NuHart Superfund site.
On the event’s Facebook page, would-be partygoers were unhappy when they found out about the toxic history of the venue. The majority of commenters on the Facebook event page shared plans about backup parties with little time to reason with why the party was shut down.
NAG and NYC Council Member Stephen Levin’s office are hosting a meeting on new developments regarding the NuHart Plastics Superfund Site, beginning at 6:30 pm this Monday, Nov. 2, at the Polish & Slavic Center (176 Java Street in Greenpoint).
All the way from Albany, the Dept. Of Health (DOH) is making a rare North Brooklyn appearance, joining representatives from the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the NuHart developer’s environmental consultant, Roux Associates, who will update us on their plans to move ahead with residential construction.
The previous NuHart meeting was held this past July. The Dupont Street developers announced, via Michael Roux of Roux Associates, their plans to begin imminent construction on uncontaminated Lot 57 (the blue box in the image below) under an as-of-right building permit.
Lot 57 is adjacent to the two contaminated parcels (also pictured below), which must undergo a cleanup prior to development.
The yellow box is a New York State Superfund site managed by the DEC. The NYC Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) manages the area in the red box. Watch the video below for Roux’s description of the developer’s plans from the July 2015 meeting in Greenpoint.
A resident living near the NuHart site asked Roux, “Has anyone done a study as to how demolition of Lot 57 might disturb the plume or the toxins in the two adjacent properties?”
“As far as I know, no specific study has been conducted for that,” said Roux. “From my understanding of the contaminants, the location, and how they migrate, I wouldn’t think it’s a concern.”
What is a plume?
Hear from Dr. Peter DeFur, President of the Environmental Stewardship Concepts (ESC) who was hired through a DEC grant as the “technical advisor” to the Greenpoint community at the NuHart site.
In case you’re wondering, our drinking water is safe from contamination, as it is supplied from Upstate New York, but the groundwater around NuHart is toxic.
The image below shows where TCE is mixed in with groundwater, a result from a separate petroleum spill within the shuttered factory.
The results show that well SV-1 on Clay Street tested for the highest levels of benzene and TCE compared with the other wells.
Lenny Siegel has been the Executive Director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight since 1994. He consulted Google regarding its TCE-contaminated Mountain View campus, where pregnant women were instructed to work from home for two months in 2013.
You can listen to the recent conference call between Siegel and other leading vapor intrusion and Superfund experts, in which they share TCE research and their experiences with contaminated communities.
- “Not everyone will get sick from TCE exposure.”
- Pregnant women are at highest risk for exposure.
- Sub-slab depressurization systems for radon, TCE, and PCE are very effective; the systems reverse the flow of toxic air, as long as they are installed and monitored properly.
- The time of year and breadth of soil and water tests conducted for TCE (and similar) contamination will affect the outcome of test results (how elements migrate underground changes with the seasons).
- People should have a healthy mistrust in the process that the EPA went through to determine safe exposure levels for TCE.
According to Siegel, the National Academy of Sciences selected a committee to advise the EPA to determine safe exposure levels for TCE.
“The committee members came from industries that have a financial standing in the findings,” Siegel said, leaving us to question the entire process. It’s unclear if the DOH determines its own TCE safe exposure levels from the EPA.
While ensuring the proper determination of the toxicity of chemicals is an entirely separate battle, Greenpoint residents living near the NuHart site are anxiously anticipating the finalized plans for a cleanup of the toxins that are in some cases resting underneath their homes.
At the July 2015 meeting, another Greenpoint resident asked the representative of the Dupont St. Developers LLC: “What will happen if there’s a crash in the economy or the developer has a funding emergency during the cleanup?” Watch below for her response:
The “loan to value ratio is very small,” the developer’s rep said, adding that she fell in love with Greenpoint over a decade ago and wants to build trust with the local residents during the cleanup process. Still, the developer plans to begin construction at Lot 57 on Dupont Street in the coming months prior to remedial action at the site.
The uncontaminated lot across from NuHart – 29 Clay St. – will also see multi-million dollar development soon with a highrise in the works, despite the contamination from the TCE plume resting mere feet away in its current state.
On the other side of NuHart, there’s a separate plume of toxins underground.
Under both Franklin and DuPont Streets, there is a second plume contaminated with phthalates (a toxic liquid plastics softener) drifting toward the edge of the active Greenpoint Playground and the future elementary school.
The toxic phthalate plume is moving in a general east-to-west direction in coordination with the water table, according to the RI report.
The Greenpoint Playground is a highly trafficked NYC park across the street from the NuHart Superfund Site.
The playground has two test wells to check for toxins underground; children enjoy cooling off in the fountain located within the playground during the summer months.
The remedial investigation reveals that test wells MW41 and MW-42, which are located inside the Greenpoint Playground, tested positive for DEHP (phthalates) earlier this year.
The DEC says that Greenpoint residents are safe from contamination and vapors, as the plume is 10 – 12 feet underground. Residents have complained of carelessness by inspectors at the site in the past, who hopefully are not spreading particulates from the wells.
These plastic softening toxins are noted to cause birth defects at low levels of exposure. According to the Centers For Disease Control:
DEHP, which is an abbreviation for di(2- ethylhexyl) phthalate, is a manufactured chemical that is commonly added to plastics to make them flexible. Other names for this compound are dioctyl phthalate (DOP) and bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (BEHP). (Note that di-n-octyl phthalate, however, is the name for a different chemical.) Trade names used for DEHP include Platinol DOP, Octoil, Silicol 150, Bisoflex 81, and Eviplast 80. DEHP is a colorless liquid with almost no odor. It does not evaporate easily, and little will be present in the air even near sources of production. It dissolves more easily in materials such as gasoline, paint removers, and oils than it does in water.
Results from the DEHP testing show contamination was detected inside the Greenpoint Playground on Franklin Street:
The Greenpoint playground (triangular shape below) has two test wells: MW-41 and MW-42, both tested positive for DEHP, but are not indicated as being part of the greater plume.
Water sits in small pools inside the Greenpoint Playground, and some locals say there is a peculiar smell in the area following heavy rain. According to the DEC, the toxins are 10 – 12 feet beneath the ground, and human exposure is unlikely to occur.
From handing out fliers for the previous meeting, I found that the majority of people using the playground (parents, babysitters, and children) do not know about the Superfund status of the factory across the street.
Workers were regularly spotted taking refuge in the area of the TCE plume this summer, and utility workers from National Grid were digging on Clay Street unaware of the toxic plumes nearby.
The Superfund meeting tomorrow is likely to be informed by these issues. If you can’t make it, check back for more coverage coming this week.