Suddenly a massive ear splitting explosion at Huron and Manhattan Avenue occurred causing terror. The power of the blast was so great
One frightened woman shouted out, “The Russians dropped an atom bomb, we’ll all be burned alive!”
Hundreds of frightened families headed out to the streets certain that they would be roasted if they stayed indoors. Twenty police cars and three police emergency squads rushed to the scene. Amazingly, only three people were slightly injured.
The city performed tests and learned that the blast was the result of an explosion of gas and oil fumes in the sewer. The explosion was soon forgotten. It was only twenty-eight years later Greenpointers would learn the true cause of the explosion. On September 1978, a United States Coast Guard helicopter on a routine patrol discovered a plume of oil flowing in the creek, originating from a bulkhead at Meeker Avenue.
Investigations revealed that there were seventeen million gallons of oil under the ground covering fifty acres in and around Greenpoint. The sewer blew up because Greenpoint was sitting on a massive amount of potentially explosive oil in its aquifer. Today cleanup efforts have been under way for years, but still millions of gallons of oil sit in a plume under Eastern Greenpoint. The fear today is not of explosion, but of cancer caused by carcinogenic hydrocarbons in the oil and gas. Those frightened Greenpointers in 1950 had no idea of the real danger lurking beneath their streets.