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Hurst pulls out big guns vs. trash site

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Opponents of a city plan to put a garbage-transfer station along Gravesend Bay have new ammunition in their fight — actual ammunition that they say is sitting underwater.

Assemblyman William Colton (D–Gravesend) has been fighting the city’s plan for a waste-transfer station for more than a year — but now he’s pulling out the biggest gun yet, claiming that unexploded ordnance just offshore could detonate if the city dredges to accommodate larger, garbage-hauling boats

He blasted as “completely insufficient” the city’s environmental assessment of the site, which would be at the Marine Basin Marina, on Shore Parkway at the foot of 26th Avenue.

Indeed, the city’s study of the area did not unearth what Colton says his staff discovered — namely, that on March 6, 1954, an ammunition barge sank in the bay, releasing its explosive contents.

By January of the next year, 400 of the estimated 14,460 unexploded anti-aircraft shells remained in Gravesend Bay, according to press accounts from the era.

Colton said one of his staffers called William Kirk, who was then a seaman on the barge — and Kirk corroborated the story of the sunken ammo.

Reached by telephone at his Pensacola, Florida home this week, the now-retired Kirk told The Brooklyn Paper that “dredging could definitely cause some live shells to explode.”

But the Department of Sanitation disagrees.

“We see no relationship between Colton’s allegations and the proposed Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station,” the agency said in a statement. “The Navy located and recovered the lost shells [in 1955]. The site where the shells were recovered is two miles away from the transfer station and does not impact this project.”

It’s certainly not the first time Colton has set his sights on the waste-transfer station. Last year, he sought to block the station by claiming that dredging the bay would release pollutants and kill fish.

Over the summer, he even led a flotilla of boats to protest the transfer station.

Nonetheless, the City Council approved the station when it passed the mayor’s solid-waste plan last year. All that’s needed now is a sign-off from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Colton’s explosive press conference on Tuesday came hours before the final state hearing on the transfer station.

And state officials heard a lot.

“We’re all working people, and this is causing so many problems,” said Vincent Praporto, a local activist and resident.

“And now with the bombshells being found in the ground, it’s a mess.”

Along with the specter of live ammunition, the problems of traffic noises and road troubles will be catastrophic, others said.

“These heavy trucks will tear up the streets,” said Michelle Weiss, who has been a Bath Avenue resident for 30 years.

“When do we sleep, now with the added trucks the noise, it is going to be so bad.”

Local elected officials agreed with the residents, stating the pollutants have been dumped at the site since its inception.

“They were simply dumping toxic ash on conveyer belts that would run outside in the open,” said Colton.

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Reader Feedback

Mary Placanica from Gravesend says:
There was never a confirmation that approximately 14,000 unexploded shells were ever recovered in 1955. Even though the claim is tht the barge went down 2 miles away it is very likely that the water's undercurrent could have caried them to the site of the proposed South West tranfer Station in Gravesend Bay.

The department of Sanitation and the City Council have failed this community by not ensuring proper evironmental impact studies. It took Assemblymember Colton to uncover the pollutants and ammo. Does any other city or state official or agency have the guts t fight as strongly as him? Where will they be on January 23, 2008 for the last chance to stop this TOXIC MONSTER? It now up to the DEC to do the right thing and find a site were dredging is not an issue. What about the unused railroad cars that lead to waters that will not require dredging?
Jan. 22, 2008, 6:52 pm
joe from gravesend says:
I was appalled at a recent mailing I got from Councilman Domenic Recchia,( at taxpayers money by the way), in which he had taken credit for being the lead politician to oppose the SW Marine Transfer Station. This is an out & out lie. He had & has done Nothing, Nada for this cause & fight. In fact when it was brought up at a CB 13 meeting, those who who brought it up were dismissed & marginalized by Mr. Recchia's representative and CB Chair Ms. Cleaver. Most people in the community know who was & is in the forefront of this fight, Assemblyman William Colton, who formed a great task force to try to stop this environmental disaster from happenning in our Communty.
Jan. 24, 2008, 1:30 pm
LadyGravesend from Gravesend says:
Recchia's a City Councilman so did he vote in favor of the waste transfer station?
Assemblyman Colton and his task force have been working on this for about 2 years and now Recchia (who also got 40 million for a rehab of Dyrer Oferman Park knowing that this dump would prevent it's usage)is suddenly against the WTS.
Jan. 25, 2008, 11:53 pm
joe from gravesend says:
The funny thing is, Recchia actually voted against the WTS, but he had very little to lose by doing so. He knew most of the Councilpersons would vote for it, so he did it for political reasons. He actually worked with the mayor, who is for the location of the SW MTS, by forming a task force , to oversight the WTS. Mr. Recchia works both side of the fence, he's a political opportunist. In fact if you look up poltical opportunist in the dictionary, his picture is right there.
Jan. 26, 2008, 11:11 am

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