Greenpoint Oil Spill

Greenpoint Oil Vapor Meeting Prompted by Multiple Complaints

(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: Continue reading

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ExxonMobil Proposes Toxic Cleanup at 460 Kingsland Avenue, Comment Period Open

OU-3, where the proposed cleanup would occur, is the name given to 460 Kingsland Ave. by NYDEC

The proposed cleanup plan for the 3.55 acre-site that was formerly an oil refinery owned by ExxonMobil at 460 Kingsland Ave. has been submitted and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is accepting public comment on the plan through May 11th (details below).

A public meeting will also be held with representatives from NYDEC to discuss the cleanup on Tuesday, April 16, at PS 110 Monitor Elementary School (124 Monitor St.) at 6:30 p.m.

While the infamous Greenpoint oil spill, estimated to be between 17 and 30 million gallons, inundated the soil and groundwater with petroleum-related toxins at nearby lots to the North of 460 Kingsland Ave., “historical investigations did not encounter the Greenpoint petroleum plume” at the site, according to the NYDEC factsheet.

1960 aerial view looking northwest from Apollo Street (Courtesy of Newtown Creek Alliance)

As of 2018, 12,972,637 gallons of petroleum product has been removed from Greenpoint, and ExxonMobil continues to remove the oil underneath the neighborhood.

Historical and Current Extent of FreeProduct Plume – 2016 (courtesy of NYDEC)

The contaminants to be remediated at 460 Kingsland Ave. are “petroleum-related volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) found in soils and groundwater,” according to NYDEC.

Also to be remediated are a host of toxins including polyaromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, copper, lead, mercury,
and PCBs are present in soils and in groundwater.

The site is zoned for heavy manufacturing and industrial use under M3-1 zoning, where a 29,000 square-foot one-story building currently stands and is leased out to multiple third-party businesses, including a trucking terminal.

An oil refinery and petroleum bulk storage facility operated at the site from approximately 1920 – 1966 and in 1967 the sire was purchased bt a freight company, according to the NYDEC factsheet.

The proposed cleanup includes:

  • A site cover that will allow for commercial and industrial use of the site;
  •  Monitored natural attenuation (MNA) of contaminated groundwater.
    Groundwater will be monitored for site related contamination. Reports of
    the attenuation will be provided as a part of the site management.
  • An institutional control in the form of an environmental easement will be
    placed on the property that will restrict site to commercial and industrial
    uses.
  • A site management plan will be developed to ensure that the remedy is
    maintained and monitored regularly to fully protect human health and the
    environment.

NYSDEC is currently accepting written comments on the cleanup through May 11, 2019, contact:

Randy Whitcher, Project Manager
NYSDEC
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233
518-402-9662
[email protected]

 

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Sister Francis Kress, Pioneer in Greenpoint Environmental Movement, Has Passed Away

Sister Francis Gerard Kress who Greenpointers profiled last year in its series on important local women passed away on January 17th in Brentwood, Long Island. She was 104 years old and was a nun for an amazing 87 years. Sister Francis, a beloved local figure, taught for many years at the Saint Anthony of Padua school (862 Manhattan Ave.), but it was her work as one of the first local environmentalists that is perhaps her greatest local legacy.

The future activist was born in Hells Kitchen in 1914 and by age ten she had already organized her first protest, a pot and pan demonstration of local children in favor of the first Catholic presidential candidate. She joined the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1932 and became an elementary school educator. In the 1960s, she arrived in Greenpoint, teaching local children who loved her charisma and energy in the classroom. In those days, Greenpoint was severely polluted with local residents at the time enduring a shockingly high cancer rate, but few locals knew the extent of the environmental damage.

In 1977, a plume appeared in Newtown Creek, the first evidence of a 15 million gallon oil slick that poisoned the surrounding earth. That same year Sister Francis, learning from a city bus driver about the spill, began to make inquiries among local residents. Discovering that almost everyone had a story about the black mayonnaise that oozed in Newtown Creek, she also learned about the spiking local cancer rate. She recalled that toxic fumes stained people’s clothes drying on the line outside and that it gave them headaches and made their children agitated, but locals simply lived with these dangers, but she was determined to take action. Continue reading

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A Tree Grows in Greenpoint, and We’re About to Get 499 More

Kids and trees! The young saplings of our future.
Kids and trees! The young saplings of our future.

Last Friday, Greenpoint took a small step in the direction of better living up to its name.

With one tree planted out of a proposed 500, the “Greening Greenpoint” project is well on its way to transforming our corner of Brooklyn into the verdant oasis we always knew it could be.

Neighbors, local officials, and students from the nearby St. Stanislaus Catholic Academy looked on during a tree-planting ceremony that took place Nov. 6 near 189 Driggs Avenue. There, a Hackberry tree was planted: a native shade tree that’s popular with the birds. Thanks to the students, the block then received over 300 new daffodil bulbs. Continue reading

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Tomorrow (10/20), ToxiCity Map Reveals Greenpoint & Williamsburg’s Contamination Trail

Did you know that North Brooklyn’s industrial legacy left behind an alphabet soup of toxins – TCEPCBs, phthalates, benzene, and many other chemicals – that’s lingering beneath the surface in many sections of our hood?

On October 20, a beta release of the ToxiCity Map will be hosted at Sunview Luncheonette, located at 221 Nassau Ave., starting at 7 p.m.

Source: Neighbors Allied For Good Growth
Source: Neighbors Allied For Good Growth

Continue reading

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GCEF Applicant Workshop Networking Event (11/13)

In case you still haven’t heard, Greenpoint is getting $19.5 million in funding from Exxon Mobile in retribution for that little (huge) oil spill that polluted our soil and waterways many years ago. The best part of this whole settlement is that the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund has opened up the floor to proposals from locals (that’s YOU) who have projects in mind to improve the neighborhood’s environmental landscape, as well as education and awareness about environmental concerns. You don’t have to be an environmental scientist or urban planning expert to apply–you just need to have an idea for creating a meaningful impact.

The next workshop/networking event is taking place on Wednesday 11/13, from 6:30-8:30pm. Reserve your spot HERE.

From the GCEF: The workshop will provide prospective applicants with a broad overview of the grant program, the online system, and elements of a successful application. Immediately following the workshop, there will be a networking event where attendees can meet and network with others interested in working together on a project proposal for GCEF funding — including community members who may have similar project ideas as well as technical experts who have know-how to offer to a project.

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An Epistle from ExxonMobil About How They Will Wreck the Sidewalk

ExxonMobil dropped off a letter today at the apartment, no stamp or name and addressed only to “Dear Neighbor” in a tipped haphazard typewriter’s letters. This intimacy is creepy from one of the most massive entities in the world. Did ExxonMobil just drop by and leave a letter, being sorry they had missed me?

Anyway, the letter, below, is about the Greenpoint Petroleum Remediation Project, the endless process by which ExxonMobil is removing the Greenpoint Oil Spill from underneath my house, then refining and selling it – an ineluctable win-win.

The letter tells us that “soil boring activity” is about to wreck the sidewalk on the block. Reassuringly, the letter claims it “poses no health or safety issues for you.” Sweet. I’m sitting on top of 30 million gallons of oil, plus the Meeker Avenue Plumes, many of my neighbors have devices in their basements to capture benzene vapors escaping the spill so they don’t breathe them in inside their own homes – but there is no health or safety risk when they dig out the sidewalk to “further assess the remediation progress.”

Sick, ExxonMobil! I’ll just kick back and let the good times ride for “only a few days” and then “a few weeks later” and then some more “boring will be performed” and then the place will be “reasonably restored to previous or better conditions” and they promise to be “efficient and courteous”! And no doubt they will. Just ask Baton Rouge.

 

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Investigation of the Creek

The largest polluters of Newtown Creek and environs have agreed, with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, to look at the damage. This will be the first step in the process of cleaning up Newtown Creek, which was declared a Superfund site last year by the EPA. The $25 million “investigation of the contamination” will be a process of several years, according to the EPA, before possible remedies can be suggested.

Since the discovery of the Greenpoint Oil Spill beneath northern Brooklyn in 1979, pressure has mounted, at glacial speeds, to form such an agreement. Newtown Creek, an estuary that meets the East River and separates Brooklyn from Queens for three-and-a-half miles, is one of the most polluted waterways in the country.

The six parties in the agreement include Phelps Dodge (now owned by Freeport-McMoRan); Texaco; BP (using Google Earth, take a look from above at the BP tanks {which used to belong to Amoco} sitting on the shores of Newtown Creek, for just about the Howdiest welcome to NYC one could find); National Grid (which used to be Brooklyn Union Gas Company, they operate the enormous Keyspan Greenpoint Energy Center); ExxonMobil (who is already busy pumping the oil out from beneath the neighborhood); and the City of New York (lots of sewage made its way straight into the Creek for many years, in the time before it was cooked in the building and disposed of as fine bacteria).

The investigation, which will begin this summer, will inspect not only the Creek, but surrounding soil and air. Many homes in the neighborhood have already been equipped by the EPA with devices to deter renegade benzene vapors from the Oil Spill from hanging around inside the homes. What else can’t we handle?

For a look from the polluters point of view, peruse the ExxonMobile Greenpoint Remediation Project website. There is a video which speaks glowingly of the 21 recovery wells currently sucking the oil out from beneath the neighborhood, a combined effort between EM, BP and Chevron Texaco. The three claim to “have recovered more than 11 million gallons of oil” already, which is equivalent to the official amount given for the Exxon Valdez spill.

The recovered oil is what they call “Free Product,” meaning it is floating around in the world uncontained. Perhaps also meaning that they get to refine and sell it.

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