The Environmental Protection Agency announced it could take 16 years to fully clean Newtown Creek, though local businesses and property owners fear that the effects of the agency’s Superfund recommendation could be felt immediately.
In September, the EPA made a recommendation to add the Newtown Creek to the federal Superfund site after several months of sampling. The EPA has increasingly scrutinized Netwon Creek, along with the Gowanus Canal with the goal of long-term remediation, though the cleanup of the sites could escalate into tens of million of dollars.
At two separate meetings in North Brooklyn hosted by the Newtown Creek Alliance and the Newtown Monitoring Committee, Williamsburg residents took the opportunity to ask EPA officials about the effects of environmental remediation in North Brooklyn, after Walter Mugdon, director of the EPA’s Division of Environmental Planning, gave a detailed presentation about the Superfund process.
“Our experience now is if a site is declared a Superfund site, property values may drop but they will quickly rebound when people realize it is going to get cleaned up,” said Mugdon, at an NCA meeting at St. Cecilia’s Church Auditorium. “Do people want to have a business near a waterway that is clean or dirty? Chances are they are going to say they want a cleaner one.”
Mugdan said that the EPA has been reaching out to five companies — ExxonMobil, Chevron, Phelps Dodge, BP-Amico, and National Grid — which could be potentially responsible parties for contamination and significant financial contributors toward its cleanup, as well as smaller mom and pop businesses located on the Creek which may share some liability.
The United States Navy and the City of New York could be the latest entities footing the bill for the clean-up of the fetid Gowanus Canal, this paper has learned.
The Environmental Protection Agency sent out notices to the two last week, informing them that they could be potentially responsible for the paying for the polluted waterway’s cleansing, should it be designated a Superfund site.
EPA spokesperson Elizabeth Totman said the Navy’s connection to the canal comes by way of facilities it formerly owned and/or operated adjacent to or near the Gowanus Canal and for facilities where the Navy directed and oversaw government contractors which owned and/or operated facilities adjacent to the canal. The U.S. Department of the Navy and contractors’ facilities include, but are not limited to, Navy piers at 33rd and 37th Streets; Naval Supply Depot at 850 3rd Avenue; Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Ltd. yards at 19th and 27th Street; Sullivan Dry Dock at the 23rd Street Yard; Todd Shipyards at Pier A, Tebo Plant at 23rd Street, and at the Erie Basin, Totman noted.
The city’s responsibility comes through previous/current ownership of an asphalt plant, incinerator, a pumping station, storage yard, and Department of Transportation garage. Taken collectively, the uses may have added to fouling the canal, considered one of the most polluted waterway’s in the nation.