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No boats allowed! Portion of bay off-limits due to unexploded bombs

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The Coast Guard has barred boats from passing through a football field-sized portion of the bay next to the Brooklyn tower of Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, but the off-limits area does not include a bomb-littered section that the city wants to dredge for a controversial garbage pier.

The Coast Guard issued its “Safe-Zone” designation nearly two months after divers found 1,500 unexploded anti-aircraft shells, and experts said that the 50-year-old ammo could blow up if struck by a boat.

The 110-yard safe zone, which was first reported by Sheepshead Bites, will last until June 30 or until the Coast Guard deems that the ammo is safe enough to retrieve.

The safe zone does not include a part of Gravesend Bay where the Department of Sanitation plans to dredge to make way for a waste-transfer station on Shore Parkway and Bay 41st Street — even though that area may be littered with additional bombs, according to divers for Aqua Survey.

The ammo in the safe zone makes up a tiny fraction of the 14,000 shells that fell off a military barge that overturned in a storm in 1954, so it is possible that bombs could be deposited in the area set for dredging even though it is four miles away, said Aqua Survey president Ken Hayes.

As such, Assemblyman William Colton (D–Bensonhurst) ramped up his opposition to the Sanitation Department plan.

“It would be very negligent to dredge now that this has come to light,” he said. “We need a full environmental assessment of the area because there could have been other accidents that deposited ammunition,”

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has not decided whether to allow the city to dredge the bay, but said it will consider the unexploded ammunition in its ruling.

And the city Department of Sanitation distanced itself from the Coast Guard’s “Safe Zone.”

“We have never had any intention of conducting a dredging operation for the construction of the Southwest Marine Transfer Station anywhere near the safety zone,” according to spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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