Newtown flooding has residents worried about pollution
by Kathleen Lees
Nov 07, 2012 | 2973 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As Newtown Creek experienced extensive flooding during last week’s hurricane, many businesses and homes along the creek’s industrial zone are still feeling its damage.

Along with ruined offices and apartments from the storm’s devastation, possible environmental impacts of the potentially contaminated water have caused concern among area residents.

According to the Newtown Creek Alliance, reports indicated that sewer overflow began early afternoon as Hurricane Sandy approached the city on Monday and subsided the next day.

The industrial zone along the creek is home to dozens of brownfield sites, toxic release inventory sites, state superfund sites and known groundwater plumes of oil and solvents. The creek itself is a Federal Superfund site that is currently being extensively sampled and analyzed by consultants working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In a statement regarding the creek’s flooding, EPA said that in support with FEMA and the state of New York it is currently assessing the damage to determine if any actions are needed to protect people’s health and the environment.

EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck said that the situation illustrated the need to clean up urban waters.

Yet, many residents feel they’re not being given enough information about the procedure for clean up or how to protect areas from flooding, again.

“It’s not enough,” said Kate Zidar, executive director of the Newtown Creek Alliance. “Nobody's really saying anything,” she said, questioning the “gloopy” pavements left by oil sheens from the creek's flooding.

To add to the problem, Zidar said flood preparations for the area did not address the situation.

“Flood preparedness really only addresses residential communities here,” Zidar said, who emphasized that the majority of properties damaged from the Newtown Creek's flooding were waterfront businesses.

“We have pieces of the puzzle but we don't have the information coming from a coordinated source,” Zidar said. “How can we protect these properties from flooding in the future?”

However, even with the recent sludge from the storm, some don't think there's as much cause for concern.

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who represents North Brooklyn, announced that the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey had tested portions of the flooded areas in Greenpoint, and determined that it did not contain dangerous toxins.

“According to water tests, the water that flooded basements did not contain the more dangerous toxins that lay at the bottom of the Newtown Creek” Lentol said. “However, the water is dirty, so please be safe and protect yourself as you clean-up.”

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