Streams

Newtown Creek Declared New York's Latest Superfund Site

Monday, September 27, 2010

For the second time this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is calling for the large-scale cleanup of a polluted New York City waterway. The Newtown Creek, which runs for four miles between Queens and Brooklyn, was named a Superfund site on Monday.

The Coast Guard spotted oil seeping into Newtown Creek in 1978, but it's filled with toxins that date back centuries.

The EPA regional administrator Judith Enck says part of being named a Superfund site means tracking down who's responsible for pollution in the creek. "We don't have a specific estimate on how much that's going to cost, who's the larger of the parties, but they are are all fiscally on the hook to clean up this essential urban waterway,"Enck says. 

Katie Schmid, director of the Newtown Creek Alliance, says the federal action is necessary to reverse longstanding problems. 

"There is no real estate pressure. We don't see developers wanting to build condos along the banks of Newtown Creek, and so there's really very little possibility that the private sector is going to find it financially viable to remediate," Schmid says.

Oil companies ExxonMobil and BP still store oil along the creek.

The Gowanus Canal in, Red Hook, Brooklyn, was given Superfund Status in March of this year.

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