Billions of tiny salt granules blew from a pile in the Red Hook container port into the residential neighborhood across Columbia Street on Thursday afternoon, coating everything in their path with a fine layer of brine and even penetrating apartments blocks away from the piers.
The sodium storm, apparently unleashed by a loose tarp atop the salt stockpile, was a nightmare come true for Columbia Waterfront District residents, who had nervously watched the snow-white mound grow in February and were afraid they’d be dusted by the particles.
After much hullabaloo, the imperfect saline solution separating them from a brackish assault was a thin tarpaulin, which either accidentally or intentionally was removed on Thursday.
“I was pelted with salt. It was blowing around everywhere,” said Brian McCormick, a Kane Street resident, after he arrived home from work in the evening. “It’s a man-made disaster. Everything is covered with dust.”
McCormick said that almost every surface inside his home, one block east of the piers, was covered with the grainy additive.
Waterfront neighborhoods have had a rough relationship with airborne salt in the past year. Last summer’s New York City Waterfalls art project by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson is blamed for casting a debilitating sea spray towards the posh River Café’s weeping birches, which are lifeless this spring.
Officials from American Stevedoring, which runs the port, could not be reached in time for The Brooklyn Paper’s heart-racing online deadlines, but photographs snapped by The Paper’s photographer, who braved the elements, showed workers rapidly trying to contain the situation with moving equipment.
Check back later to see all his shots.