The state has approved a permit for the city to pour up to 7.2 million gallons of contaminated groundwater into Coney Island Creek every day for up to two years while the city upgrades sewer and water mains in Coney’s west end.
The permit allows the city to overlook nearly a dozen heavy metals found in the water because only small amounts were discovered in the creek, and state officials say locals have nothing to fear because Coney creek flows into Gravesend Bay, which will dilute the pollutants. But with millions of gallons gushing into the inlet each day for years, experts and locals fear that the contaminates could amass to dangerous levels, and aren’t buying the state’s argument that being connected to a large body of water will mitigate the risks.
The project being run by the Economic Development Corporation will upgrade aging water mains and storm and sanitary sewers in an area bounded by W. 17th and W. 22nd streets from Neptune Avenue to the Boardwalk. Shovels are expected to hit the ground this summer and the project will last for roughly two years — with an embargo on Surf Avenue construction from May 15 to Sept. 15 so as not to clash with the swell of beach-goers, according to city records.
But to keep the construction site dry, the city applied for a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit to “dewater” contaminated groundwater from several sites by pumping it into Coney Island Creek — where people swim, students routinely wade for city-run education programs, and some congregations use the waters for religious rites such as baptisms.