Dredging has been halted at the site of the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station after nearby residents alerted elected officials to toxic overflow in Gravesend Bay resulting from city-mandated work at the site.
The construction of the waste transfer station, which community leaders and residents have vocally opposed but which the city insists is an integral part of its overall solid waste management plan in which each borough is supposed to handle its own trash stream, requires the dredging at the problematic site—once home to the former Bensonhurst incinerator, a long-loathed dumping site that was found to be operating without a permit from the 1950s through the 1980s.
The toxic sludge was dropped into the bay, according to a video supplied to the office of Assemblymember Wililam Colton, while workers were in the process of transporting dredged sediment and soil from the bottom of the bay to different locations (21 truckloads to be exact, set to be taken to areas in New Jersey and Pennsylvania according to Community Board 11).
Colton’s office forwarded the video to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which temporarily stopped the dredging so that an investigation could be conducted.
The toxic soil—said to contain contaminants such as Class C acutely toxic levels of dioxins, lead, mercury, chlordanes and Mirex (an ant killer insecticide banned by the EPA in 1976)—could be seen in the resident-submitted video, and several photos, leaking into the Gravesend Bay water from the machinery transporting the sediment.
“The city’s administration’s rushing forward to build this senseless garbage station already has resulted in significant damage to the environment in incidents such as shown in the video, where contaminated sludge was dumped into Gravesend Bay,” Colton — who is spearheading the fight against the Waste Transfer Station alongside District Leader Nancy Tong and Councilmember Mark Treyger — said in a statement. “A large piece of metal prevented the jaws of the environmental bucket from closing and the sensor, which was supposed to alert the operator, failed to [do so]. Even worse, the dredging continued after this spill and the environmental monitor who is supposed to be on site at all times was nowhere to be seen.”
“I was horrified when I saw the bucket clamshell raised from the waters with a large piece of metal stuck in its jaws and all that black contaminated sludge falling out back into the waters,” said Tong.
“The dredging of what appears to be toxic waters in Gravesend Bay is disturbing and alarming for the residents of Bay Ridge, Brighten Beach and Coney Island,” added Assemblymember-elect Pamela Harris. “Assemblymember Colton has done research and warned about these dangers from the beginning. I found it troubling that his warnings have not been heeded.”
Previously, local pols, including Congressmember Dan Donovan, had penned letters to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), held rallies and circulated petitions to put a stop to the station’s construction.