Assemblyman Colton Demands Test of the Bottom of the Gravesend Bay

August 2, 2006

On Sunday, August 6th, at 11 am, Assemblyman William Colton will be holding a press conference demanding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers immediately test the water and bottom sediment of Gravesend Bay, charging that a man-made environmental disaster may be ‘inevitable’ otherwise. The press conference will be held at the Bay Parkway promenade directly overlooking the bay.

It is in Gravesend Bay, off the coast right where the Southwest Brooklyn incinerator once stood, where the city’s Department of Sanitation plans to dredge in order to make the water there deep enough for barges to transport waste into and out of a proposed marine transfer station, which is a critical part of the city’s overall waste management plan. The plan was recently passed by the New York City Council and now heads to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation for final certification before becoming enacted.

However, Assemblyman Colton argues that for over thirty years, the former Southwest Brooklyn incinerator spewed toxins, ash and other harmful substances into the air which consequently found their way into Gravesend Bay due to its proximity. Contaminants left over by the incinerator may very well have seeped into the bottom of the bay and any disturbance to it, like the city’s plan to dredge there, may open up a Pandora’s Box of serious health and environmental hazards for people, wildlife and various industries, the legislator warns.

“Any dredging at the bottom of the bay can stir up harmful substances which will contaminate waters not only in Gravesend Bay, but the toxins can drift and span across into Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and elsewhere,” said Colton.

The Assemblyman also notes that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has conceded in a response to his inquiry that it has not tested the water and bottom sediment of Gravesend Bay since the dismantling of the Southwest Brooklyn incinerator back in August 2004. The Army Corps pointed out that it does not have jurisdiction of the “tidal waters’ in Gravesend Bay and the Department of Sanitation would have to seek its approval prior to any dredging.

Colton has already fired off a letter to the Army Corps demanding that it immediately begin all proper testing at the site. The Brooklyn lawmaker is charging that an operating marine transfer station near Shore Parkway and Bay 41st Street in Bensonhurst, which is being pressed by the Department of Sanitation, can “wreak havoc” upon the health, environment, wildlife and overall quality of life in Southern Brooklyn.

“There is so much at stake here. We’re talking about the health of people, the possible contamination of Southern Brooklyn’s waters, the environmental disasters that would be gravely affected, and even Southern Brooklyn’s fishing industries would be devastated,” alerts the Brooklyn legislator.

Colton will be flocked by various community leaders, organizations and neighborhood residents all calling for the immediate testing of the water and bottom sediment of Gravesend Bay.