National Grid: Paerdegat Basin is cancer free

Walled off: The hard booms are being layed around marinas and at the mouth of Paerdegat Basin where it leads into Jamaica Bay in order to contain the oil.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Environmentalists are questioning the clean bill of health National Grid is giving Paerdegat Basin, claiming that the company being accused of dumping up to 1,400 gallons of oil and gasoline into the waterway shouldn’t be taking part in the investigation.

National Grid officials said samples taken from Paerdegat Basin found no detectable traces of cancer-causing carcinogens in the water, disputing earlier concerns that high levels of polychlorinated biphenyl — a cancer causing pollutant — had ended up in the basin on Sept. 27 when the FDNY accidentally flushed the sludge-like mixture into neighborhood catch basins.

“We did some initial sampling at various locations in the basin and didn’t find any detectable amounts of polychlorinated biphenyl,” said National Grid spokeswoman Karen Young.

Yet environmentalists say National Grid shouldn’t be conducting the tests, since they are the subject of the Coast Guard’s investigation into the spill. The oil and gasoline came out of an unused National Grid pipe the utility was stuffing with cement, officials claim.

“It always raises red flags when a group has been accused of causing an accident are the one’s doing the investigation,” said NYC Park Advocacy President Geoffrey Croft. “I always think it’s the best practice on these things for them to be tested by an outside party and, in this case, the Department of Environmental Conservation.”

But state officials didn’t have a problem with National Grid conducting the tests.

“This is what we do,” said Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Lisa King. “National Grid is responsible for doing the testing. Our job is oversight.”

King said tests do not signal the end of the Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Coast Guard’s investigation into the spill.

Samples of wildlife within the basin remain to be conducted, and the Department of Health’s advisory to avoid fishing and recreational activity within the basin remains in place, King explained.

Investigators said the oily sludge poured out of the pipe onto Paerdegat Avenue North, where it was flushed into storm drains by firefighters responding to an odor of natural gas.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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