(courtesy of Timothy Krause/Flickr)

A group of Greenpoint residents have reported smelling oil and petroleum vapors recently in their apartments and will hold a meeting this week with local elected officials and concerned neighbors to “work toward a solution.”

If you live in the vicinity of Freeman, Green, and Huron streets and would like to learn more or share your story a meeting hosted by the North Brooklyn Neighbors will take place at the Dupont Street Senior Housing Center (80 Dupont St.) on Tuesday, May 7th, from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Both the city Department of Environmental Protection and the state Department of Environmental Conservation have been investigating the potential source of the alleged vapors and conducted sewer inspections in Greenpoint last week, according to Benjamin Solotaire of Council Member Stephen Levin’s office.

The agencies sampled the air at six manholes and found one manhole on Freeman Street that has evidence of petroleum product. Here are the full details:

Yesterday, DEP and DEC met in Greenpoint to perform a sewer investigation between 5 PM and 8 PM. The sewers were inspected via six (6) manholes at Freeman, Green and Huron Streets along McGuinness Blvd. Two (2) manholes were located near the corner of Freeman Street and McGuinness Blvd; one (1) manhole was located on McGuinness between Freeman Street and Green Street; one (1) manhole was located at the intersection of Green Street and McGuinness Blvd; one (1) manhole was located on McGuinness Blvd between Green Street and Huron Street; and one (1) manhole was located on Huron Street. As each manhole was opened, observations and PID readings were recorded. Some of the manholes had accumulated debris and sediment which restricted flow in the sewer. DEP removed the debris from three (3) manholes at the corner of McGuinness Blvd and Freeman Street to restore flow. The sewer was then flushed using a pressurized water line. PID readings in the manholes prior to debris removal and flushing were as follows:

• Freeman #1 (closer to Manhattan Ave): 6.2 ppm
• Freeman #2 (closer to McGuinness Blvd): 4.2 ppm
• McGuinness #1 (between Freeman and Green Streets): 4.7 ppm
• Green: 0 ppm
• McGuinness #2 (between Green and Huron Streets): 1.2 ppm
• Huron: 2.6 ppm

The above PID readings are considered low and some represent background readings you would normally find in a sewer. Debris was found in manholes indicated by Freeman #1, Freeman #2 and McGuinness #1. After debris was removed from the three (3) manholes, PID readings were as follows:

• Freeman #1: 34.8 ppm
• Freeman #2: 0.3 ppm
• McGuinness #1: 0 ppm

The PID readings observed after debris removal suggest that the debris and sediment found in Freeman #1 contained a petroleum product. Disruption of this debris and sediment released vapors which explains the higher PID reading. The sewer was then flushed using a pressurized water line. PID readings after flushing were as follows:

• Freeman #1: 0 ppm
• Freeman #2: 0 ppm
• McGuinness #1: 0 ppm

Flow within the sewers was restored and odors were low upon completion of work.

The offices of Council Member Stephen Levin, Senator Julia Salazar and Assemblyman Joe Lentol are scheduled to meet with DEC and DEP tomorrow to find more details.


While the Greenpoint oil spill inundated the nearby area in the 1970s with up to 30 million gallons of oil, the spill not suspected to be the culprit in the recent vapor cases.

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