Apartments dumped 200,000 gallons of sewage per day into Coney Island Creek

Scat-urated! Locals fear more sewage dumping in Coney creek
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Talk about being up s— creek.

Sixteen buildings in Gravesend’s Beach Haven Apartments have been dumping roughly 200,000 gallons of raw sewage per day into Coney Island Creek — possibly for years — regulators discovered earlier this month. The stream passes two parks and several beaches on its way to the harbor, borough students routinely wade into its fetid waters for city-run educational programs, and some even use the creek for religious rites, which makes the revelation particularly reviling, one environmental advocate said.

“The potential damage to the community itself is appalling,” said Coney Island activist Pamela Pettyjohn. “All summer people go swimming, fishing, boating in there — I mean there are religious ceremonies in there where people are baptized.”

The city discovered the dumping on Sept. 7 and notified state regulators, according to e-mails between the state and water advocates shared with this paper.

Workers diverted 200,000 gallons per day of fecal flow from clogged sewer pipes into a storm drain that spills into the creek near Shell Road and Shore Parkway, according to city and state officials. That’s the same rate as the infamous Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which garnered international headlines for its prodigious output in 2010.

The apartments have since fixed the issue and stopped dumping in the creek, according to a spokesman from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Soak it in: Imagine Gowanus’s Double D Pool was twice its size and filled with feces — that’s how much raw sewage was dumped into Coney Island Creek on a daily basis.
File photo

The agency did not respond to questions about penalties for the illicit dumping, why it did not alert locals when it found out, or how long Beach Haven had been at it. The complex may have been sending sewage into the creek for months or years, according to Water Trail Association co-founder Rob Buchanan, who is in conversation with the state on the matter.

A rep at Beach Haven denied any involvement — despite the city’s confirming it was responsible — and suggested it may have been a neighboring complex.

“That is completely untrue, we would never, never do such a thing,” said Sam, a spokesman for the Beach Haven’s management company Apartment Management Associates who refused to give his last name. “We don’t operate that way. Perhaps you have us confused with the Beach Haven Apartments next door.”

The creek had the city’s turdiest water in 2014, according to analysis by data crunchers at blog I Quant NY.

Harbor watchdogs the Waterfront Alliance first noted the dumping in a blog post.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Holy crap: The heavily polluted Coney Island Creek is a popular spot for baptisms.
Charles Denson