Queens Asked to Join in Newtown Study
by Daniel Bush
Dec 17, 2008 | 4862 views | 0 0 comments | 96 96 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dec 11 08 - 09:36 AM

Dec 11 08 - 09:13 AM

Queens residents were enlisted last week to take part in a Brooklyn-based initiative to study the environmental hazards of the polluted Newtown Creek that divides the two boroughs.

Teresa Toro, who sits on Community Board 1, which represents the north Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, appeared before Community Board 5 on December 10 to discuss a new project to produce a report on the environmental status of Newtown Creek.

The goal of the Community Health and Harm Narrative Project (CHHNP), said Toro, will be to document the effects the pollution of Newtown Creek has had on the health of residents living in the neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, and Maspeth, in Queens.

The industrial waterway has been at the center of a recent suit filed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) against a concrete and gravel company that the DEC charged has dumped waste materials into the river. Environmental organizations have long complained of the oil and cleaning chemicals that seep into the river from nearby factories and refineries.

Toro said her project, part of the Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA), would train residents in the affected communities to take down the oral histories of their neighbors and friends. Once the study collects enough information, wrote CHHNP's Principle Investigator Rachael Weiss in an email, its organizers will present their findings to city and state policy makers working on the issue.

Weiss said the project aims to "connect the communities with New York City and New York State agencies that can help them realize their ambitions for a better quality of life through an improved urban environment."

At the CB5 meeting, Toro asked residents who live by the creek to participate in the study.

"What we want to do is have a general meeting and get people interested in the study," Toro told CB5 members. "We'd like to see what rises to the top in terms of conditions and illnesses" residents have been diagnosed with that could trace back to the pollution.

CB5 members reacted with interest to the project, which is already underway in Brooklyn.

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