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DEP Promises to Clean Up Contaminated Newtown Creek on Queens/Brooklyn Border

Greenpoint residents met last week with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) to beg for a full-scale overhaul of Newtown Creek, an offshoot of the East River that divides Brooklyn and Queens.

New York’s largest wastewater treatment plant is located on the grimy creek’s bank, and in the summer, the stench from the plant wafts for miles. The Queens Ledger reported that DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd hopes to make a series of environmental upgrades and hydraulic dredging in order to bring the plant into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, including covering all areas where sewage is exposed to the air and building new chlorination tanks.

Residents had also been promised previously that the plant’s sewage sludge tank, which stores sludge from the plant before it’s taken out on barges, would be removed by 2010. Due to problems managing removal of the sludge without disrupting traffic on the Pulaski Bridge, which crosses Newtown Creek, Lloyd told residents that plans to remove the sewage sludge tank have been delayed another year. Until the tank is moved, community plans for housing, open space and waterfront access along Newtown Creek can’t move forward. “We have no interim solutions to discuss,” said Lloyd, “but we don’t need to stay that all is lost.”

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