Along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Judith Enck, Superfund Director Walter Mugdan and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland, the representatives toured the contaminated waterway to view several of the major sources of pollution at the site.
The tour also showed the lawmakers areas where the EPA has taken core samples and conducted other preliminary environmental sampling in order to determine the extent and severity of pollution in the waterway.
The tour was offered in light of the first stage of the Newtown Creek cleanup, which began with a remedial investigation that started this month.
According to the EPA, the remedial study could take five to seven years to complete and the actual removal of contaminants from the waterway could take another ten years after that. The EPA estimates that the cleanup could cost $300 to $400 million.
This July, after a year of preliminary investigation, the EPA entered into a consent order with six potentially responsible parties, including ExxonMobil, Texaco, National Grid and BP America, to conduct the remedial investigation and feasibility study for the cleanup effort.
After the study is complete, the EPA will oversee an analysis to develop and assess a full range of potential options for moving forward and cleaning up the contamination.
“Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for a toxic site of this magnitude," said Maloney in a statement. "This will be an enormous and complicated cleanup that could cost more than $400 million and stretch as long as fifteen years – but the results will be worth it for the residents of our community.
"Restoring the health of both sides of Newtown Creek will give residents of Queens and Brooklyn improved access to the waterfront and make our neighborhoods healthier places to live,” she said.
In September 2010, the EPA designated Newtown Creek as a Superfund site after its water was tested by the agency and found to harbor harmful substances, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), potentially harmful contaminants that can easily evaporate into the air.
“There’s still a long way to go,” said Velazquez, “but it is clear the Superfund process is under way and I’m pleased to see progress being made.”
An informal public information session on the Newtown Creek Superfund cleanup to discuss upcoming field work will be held this Thursday, October 27, at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. EPA representatives will be available to answer questions regarding the field work in an informal one-on-one setting.