We’ve already talked about how Newtown Creek is one of the most polluted waterways in the country (AKA, don’t even think about taking a dip or eating its fish). And while everyone knows this is true, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has reportedly lied about the already horrific water quality in city reports—and former employees have banded together to potentially sue the City of New York.
The Amended Notice from law firm The Juris Group states that Mayor de Blasio and the DEP have violated the Clean Water Act by, essentially, lying about the water quality after governmental inspections, threatening employees who might spill the truth about how bad the creek is, getting rid of the office that used to monitor the DEP for Clean Water Act violations, and bypassing standard rules in order to reward those who retaliate against whistleblower employees.
The NYC DEP is not unfamiliar with lawsuits and investigations; according to Progress Queens, the DEP has been breaking rules since 1988.
According to the Amended Notice, “On August 29, 2001, the NYC DEP was convicted of violating the federal Clean Water Act (felony) after knowingly contaminating various upstate-New York reservoirs with EPA-proscribed pollutants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)(a carcinogen), and mercury (a toxin highly dangerous to the human nervous system). Though certain NYC DEP managers and supervisors had notice of the discharges at its own facilities beginning in 1988, they either ignored or affirmatively concealed the health risk at least fifty (50) times during the 13-year period.”
Staffers have allegedly been changing samples pulled from the creek so that they comply with the Clean Water Act. The altered log can be seen on Progress Queens.
It’s still unclear how the DEP will respond, though DNAInfo reported that city officials denied that there was truth in the letter, a city official commenting: “We will review the complaint if one is actually filed and respond accordingly.”