Update! Nydia supports Newtown Creek Superfund

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

One day after the federal government gave residents 30 more days to complain about the Newtown Creek, the fetid waterway’s congresswoman revealed last Friday that she supports designating the creek as a toxic Superfund site.

In doing so, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Sunset Park) linked the creek with the Gowanus Canal, its just-as-repulsive sister sluice that is nearing the end of the public comment period that is expected to result in Superfund designation by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Securing a healthy environment is the single most important factor in choosing a course of action for cleaning both the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek,” Velazquez said in a statement. “Superfund designation will thoroughly remove hazards and transform these waterways into a source of pride for our community.

“The Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek have threatened the health of New Yorkers for long enough,” she added.

Velazquez’s input followed the EPA’s decision to extend to Dec. 23 the public comment period over the creek, which separates Brooklyn from Queens, another borough.

Superfund designation begins a process that allows the EPA to hold polluters responsible for funding a clean-up the sludge stream.

The process of designating the Gowanus Canal, begun earlier this year, has been fairly controversy, as the city is hoping to spur residential development in the area and on the banks. Mayor Bloomberg has proposed his own clean-up plan in hopes of avoiding the “stigma” of Superfund designation.

Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights) is afraid that such a stigma will carry over to Newtown Creek, too.

“The Superfund is not a fund, there is no money and it can become an awful 25-year process of the federal government suing the pants off everybody,” said Yassky’s chief of staff Tim Roberts, who said that his boss is waiting for the mayor to make the first move before he makes his decision.

“Whether we support it or not depends on the alternative,” Roberts said. “If the city has a viable option that only takes 10 years, then we’ll choose that. The stigma with the Superfund is bad, and we have to do something about this disgusting mess now.”

Their paths to a clean future may diverge, but the Newtown Creek shares a few traits with the Gowanus Canal. Both are swirling with rainbows of oil and raw sewage. And both have a very long list of potentially liable polluters.

Every year, 2.7 billions of gallons of raw sewage spill into the creek. And nearby, a 30-million-gallon oil spill, attributed to decades-old leaks from oil refineries, still seeps into the waterway. The spill is three times the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Samples of the creek taken in Sept. 2009 revealed the presence of “pesticides, metals, polychlorinated biphenyls, and volatile organic compounds which are potentially harmful” and “can easily evaporate into the air.”

The Bloomberg administration has yet to offer an opinion about Superfund designation for Newtown Creek. A mayoral spokesman said that the administration would weigh in during the public comment period.

To tell the EPA what you think, visit, call Ildefonso Acosta at (212) 637-4344 or e-mail him at To find out more about the Superfund process, visit:

Updated 5:15 pm, July 9, 2018: Story was updated to include a comment from the creek's councilman.
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

gowanee from gowanus says:
Hallelujah! Thank you Ms. Velazquez, for putting the health of residents and the environment first and foremost.
Oct. 16, 2009, 4:41 pm
Larry from Gowanus says:
Is your paper trying to be deceptive here with this story?

------a course of action for cleaning both the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek,” Velazquez said in a statement-------

Your headline only states Newtown, leaving out Gowanus Creek. Are you trying to play down the Gowanus for some reason?
Oct. 17, 2009, 9:38 am
mayor from NYC says:
The headline on the Congresswoman's notice for this read:

((Velázquez Urges Superfund Designation for Gowanus, Newtown

Says EPA Has Resources, Expertise to Clean Up Polluted Waterways))

yes for Gowanus TOO!
Oct. 17, 2009, 9:42 am
Judah Spechal from Bed-Stuy says:
I have notice less and less news coverage in your paper lately. It's this a validation that all things Corporate (News. Corp) is not better?
Oct. 17, 2009, 11:33 am
Resident from Carroll Gardens says:
Thank you Congresswoman Velazquez !!

Health and safety are our basic rights...when will our political turncoats do the right thing?

Velazquez for Mayor!!!
Oct. 17, 2009, 2:37 pm
Resident from Carroll Gardens says:
Health and safety are our basic rights but we all need to get the basic facts. The ironic part of all of this is that if Bloomberg and the City of NY are left to clean up the Gowanus they actually will and they will do it faster. The EPA's Superfund cleanup program - contrary to popular opinion isn't as thorough (it doesn't address fully the raw sewage problem) and it will take twice the time (at least, the average is 25 years) that the city will take to clean it up. Motives aside, regardless of political grandstanding and taking sides, the fact is, that in this instance the Federal government and EPA actually wouldn't make our neighborhood safer faster but the city government will.
Oct. 18, 2009, 4:41 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: