Saturday, October 03, 2009

Polluted Waters: Newtown Creek, Brooklyn

The water in the inner reaches of urban waterways like Newtown Creek and Gowanus Canal is polluted beyond comprehension. Yes, the white stuff in the foreground is water. These “out of sight – out of mind” waterways are like giant, 500 foot diameter pipes discharging a toxic mix of petroleum products, heavy metals, chemical compounds and sewage pathogens into the waters of NY Harbor and the Hudson. We have much work ahead to clean these cesspools up.

Learn more about the oil spill under Greenpoint, Brooklyn that's leaching into Newtown Creek.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

R.O.A.R. joins with RVK to protect Hudson River Fish

Religious Organizations Along the Hudson River (ROAR) is a group of nine congregations with property along the Hudson. We’ve had ROAR members aboard on the Tappan Zee, at Indian Point and at Kingston – three outings with 22 guests. Their mission statement reads, in part, “we share kinship with all creation” and “human beings and the natural world must go into the future as a single sacred community or both will perish.” Riverkeeper and ROAR are working together on shad and herring protection and restoration. They are wonderful partners and we are very grateful for their help.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sewage Discharge at Troy

On August 25th we found a dry weather sewage discharge at Troy. I contacted NYSDEC via cell. An Environmental Conservation Officer met me at Troy and we returned to document the site together. DEC and Riverkeeper contacted City of Troy independently and the outfall was shut off. This event will be part of the evidence used by DEC in a potential enforcement action against Troy. The sample bottle contains sewage and toilet paper fragments – microbial levels were too high to measure – “off the chart.”

Monday, August 17, 2009

Coal Tar in Gowanus Canal and Poughkeepsie

Coal Tar was a by-product of a process which extracted gas from coal. The gas was used for heating, cooking and lighting until the 1960’s. Today there are hundreds of polluted sites in NYS, including many in the Hudson Valley, where the Manufactured Gas Plants (MGP) once operated. On the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn we routinely see coat tar bubbling to the surface from contaminated bottom sediments. But it’s not just a NYC problem. The second photo shows coal tar in the reflection of the new Railway Bridge Park at Poughkeepsie. This one is about 4000 feet from Poughkeepsie’s drinking water intake pipe. MGP sites are slowly being targeted for remediation by NYS DEC - which is a good thing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Successful Enforcement on Newtown Creek

We observed glass and mixed paper and plastic labeling falling off a deck barge at Sims Municipal Recycling facility on Newtown Creek. We contacted Sims management and within ONE DAY had a response from the facility manager and his staff. They immediately shifted to deep hopper barges. Great response – problem solved. We wish all polluters behaved this way.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO)

CSOs are one of the primary reasons we still have dangerous spikes of sewage contamination in the Hudson. This one is from Manhattan (there are 500 of them in NYC alone), but we see the same thing in Troy and CSOs exist at many communities in between. Generally CSOs only discharge untreated sewage when there has been a rain event that overloads the system – but not always. These sewage discharges are “permitted” by NYS but it’s unacceptable that we still have these problems 37 years after passage of the Clean Water Act. It doesn’t have to continue this way. The public has to demand better – then polluters will lose permits and funding to repair the system will be found.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Tagging Atlantic Sturgeon near Norrie Point

We came upon the DEC fisheries team in the process of tagging six males – all about 6 feet long. These fish are so astounding to see up close! Our Atlantic Sturgeon population has been nearly wiped out by overfishing. There are more males now because it was the females that were taken for their eggs/caviar. Any species whose eggs are a gourmet treat is in real trouble! Unlimited harvest of a fish species just before they spawn is a pretty efficient way to exterminate them. We did it to Atlantic Sturgeon until 1997 and River Herring and American Shad as well. This year however, the shad fishery has been suspended – in the hope that the stock can be restored. Our declining herring population still has no protection at all.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Riverkeeper as tow boat

On May 16th, southbound from Albany, we came upon a 30 foot motor boat with 6 persons aboard which had drifted ashore due to engine failure. We towed them off the bank and into Catskill Creek. Other “heroic” rescues by Riverkeeper include two kids and a capsized canoe near Stockport, a stranded sailboat near Norrie Pt., two guys off a burning 40 footer near Piermont Pier, a bass boat, etc…Rescues too numerous to mention.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Tires on the Harlem River

On the Bronx side just north of the 207th street bridge we found hundreds of tires dumped down the bank – covering several hundred feet of shoreline. The area is between the river and “Storage Post,” a self-storage facility. Although we observed no active dumping we referred the case to NYSDEC which investigated and fined the storage property owner, resulting in the tires being cleaned up. Nice response.

More tires took their place

We’re still finding discarded tires in the upper half of the Harlem River. Although the dumping from the “Storage Post” seems to have stopped it appears that now there is another site where waste tires are being dumped to avoid the tire recycling fee. We have an idea where the new dumping is occurring but never see it taking place. Must be at night because the greatest concentration of floating tires is always in the morning. We’re working on it. Wish I had time lapse camera.