Hurricane Sandy tore threw New York leaving pure disaster in its wake. Experts are saying that she also left a trail of raw sewage and industrial waste in the waterways surrounding New York City. The chemical and sewage exposures could cause untold health problems for city residents if not handled properly.
John Lipscomb of the clean water advocacy group Riverkeeper said in a statement:
“Normally, sewer overflows are just discharged into waterways and humans that generate the sewage can avoid the consequences by avoiding the water,but in this case, that waste has come back into our communities.”
Recently in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, a Superfund site was declared to due abnormally high levels of industrial pollution. The site was hit hard by raging floodwater from the storm and there is concern that the toxic sewage could be cycled back into city drinking water.
Waters rose to an estimated 13 feet during the storm’s worst surges. The water left severe flooding which filled the basements of buildings with a brown murky type of water that residents are wondering what it contained inside of it.
Judith Enck, regional administrator for the EPA region that includes New York, told The Huffington Post that preparations to deal with the toxic runoff would even be difficult under normal circumstance.
“Little can be done in the hours or days in advance of major storms that were experienced last night. Instead, multi-year improvements need to be made. The situation illustrated the need to clean up urban waters and the benefits of a comprehensive Superfund cleanup.”
A similar Superfund site in Newton Creek is causing city residents additional concern. Newton Creek runs between the border of Brooklyn and Queens.
Green Point resident Richard Platzman told the Huffington Post about his concerns regarding the toxic waste. His condo was unaffected but he knows several neighbors who flooded. Platzman is worried about the pollution as Green Point is already known as one of the most polluted neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
“The fact is that waste from all these industries — metal-working, pencil manufacturing, everything — all this stuff is going to rise up into the dirt, basements, everywhere.”
Brian Coleman who runs the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center said all four buildings sustained flooding an he is concerned saying:
“Toxic chemicals are a long-term concern, but those of us who work here, we’ve learned to manage our lives around it as best we can. Right now, there are too many other things to worry about.”
So as the residents of New York City try to rebuild after Sandy, the Environmental Protection Agency will have their work cut out for them in making sure the neighborhoods are safe from pollution.