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Image courtesy of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Image courtesy of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
An aerial view of Coney Island Creek.

Officials from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced on Thursday, January 4 that ongoing investigations into the conditions of Coney Island Creek revealed that a local apartment complex was illicitly discharging sewage into the body of water.

According to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, the finding arose from a long-winded enforcement action against Beach Haven Apartments Associates, LLC. – and came with a hefty $400,000 fine. The complex must also implement a rigorous best management practices plan to prevent any further discharges from its units into the creek.

“At Governor Cuomo’s direction, New York State is acting aggressively to safeguard water quality across the state and making unprecedented investments to update and improve water infrastructure,” said Seggos. “This enforcement action and penalty levied against Beach Haven Apartments Associates, LLC., will help restore Coney Island Creek and its watershed while sending a strong message to other polluters-illegally discharging sewage into New York’s waters will not be tolerated.”

The fine is DEC’s single largest penalty issued to a residential building complex for illicit sewer discharges into New York City waters.

The majority of that fine – $350,000 – will go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the American Littoral Society to fund projects that aim to better the overall conditions of Coney Island Creek. The remaining $50,000 will support DEC’s marine resources protection efforts.

Local politicians praised the news and  contended that any and all penalties should be applied to the restoration of the creek and its ecosystem.

“Coney Island Creek has long suffered from high levels of contamination, including chemical pollution from historical heavy industry along its shores and ongoing issues of illicit discharges of sewage,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger, stressing that the creek is often lauded as a “community anchor” for many residents in terms of fishing, recreation and even education. “We commend the [DEC] for working to ensure that the parties responsible for discharge of sewage into the Creek are held accountable. The $400,000 penalty issued sends a strong message that there is a heavy cost to pay for environmental contamination, and that, when harm is done to our natural resources, those responsible will be held liable.

“However,” Treyger continued, “we would like to reiterate our community’s insistence that any and all penalties resulting from environmental contamination of Coney Island Creek must be applied to the restoration of Coney Island Creek and its ecosystem. Unlike similarly contaminated bodies of water, Coney Island Creek does not have dedicated funding for environmental remediation, despite dire need. . .We look forward to partnering closely with [DEC], the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the American Littoral Society to ensure that all of the recent $400,000 settlement will serve to restore and enhance one of our community’s great natural resources, and to ensure that the voices of the many engaged and active stewards of Coney Island Creek are heard.”

State Senator Diane Savino shared similar sentiments.

“Deteriorating events to our natural resources are occurring more frequently, either by Mother Nature or man-made,” she said. “The Coney Island Creek is a vital part of the ecosystem and the community; ensuring its viability and sustainability is a must.”

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