Greenpoint Oil Spill – Happy Earth Day
I live in a Greenpoint, Brooklyn neighborhood in the northwestern corner of the Greenpoint area, sandwiched between the BQE, Calvary Cemetery and the East River industrial zone. It’s a lovely little place with a very toxic history dating back centuries, and continuing today. Although the form of the industrial pollution may change from time to time, the basics problem is always the same–oil and synthetic chemicals. If you aren’t paying attention, it’s quite likely that you may have walked right past the latest example of this ongoing industrial disaster zone and not even noticed. Here is an example of what I am talking about, taken while walking home this Friday.
This is a photo from the South corner of Newell St. and Driggs Ave. The whole area around us has been under varying levels of construction for the past year and a half, and the folks doing the asphalt work right now have been working to resurface and pour fresh asphalt between Driggs and Nassau on the side streets. I walk past these streets every day, and last week I noticed the first instance of fresh tar spilling into the storm drains next to PS 110, which has since dried but was fresh when I walked past it last week. I thought at the time I should go back and take pictures of the fresh tar, but it had been a long day and I decided to just keep it in mind.
Here’s a picture of that storm drain about a week after the fresh tar has set.
This Friday I just happened to already have my camera with me, so I decided to document the walk from Newell St., which is one block after McGuiness Blvd. That’s where the road construction crews stopped with their last run of asphalt sealing and tarring Friday afternoon, probably about 2-3 hours before I walked by and took these pictures. You can see the progression from there up to Sutton St. in the slideshow below.
Needless to say, there are at least two clear instances of the tar spilling into and down on the inside of the stormdrains, as well as at least 3 other places with clumps of asphalt and puddles of oily water. This is sloppy work, pure and simple. As you can see from a few of the side street drains–as opposed to the streetcorner drains–where the tar spills are non-existent and the asphalt tailings are minimal. And I have seen the city and other contractors put sandbag snakes around the storm drains to protect from precisely such spills while doing roadwork of various kinds. So this is not a necessary harm, but willful negligence.
So my next step is to see how extensive this damage is by examining other drains in the area, as well as surrounding streets that were recently done, or will be in the coming months. I also will be sending these documents to the NYDEP and other bodies charged with protecting city water and environmental issues, as these are clear violations of the Clean Water Act and probably other city laws or regs as well.
Sadly, this death by a thousand cuts, or in this case a thousand drops, is one of the deadly byt largely hidden impacts of the industrial war on the planet and us. When it rains, all of this toxic industrial waste goes directly into the city storm sewers, and eventually the East River. It’s a common refrain for this area. After all, how many neighborhoods get the “honor” of having an EPA-designated Superfund site right next door? By the way, happy Earth Day!
Until next time…The Powers is Yours!