Gravesend Bay Battle

Army Corps says Department of Sanitation plan won't be blown to smithereens

Brooklyn Daily
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The unexploded munitions many say are scattered across the bottom of Gravesend Bay won’t derail the city’s plans to place a waste transfer station at the foot of Bay 41st Street, members of the Army Corps of Engineers said last week — brushing off community concerns that the bombs would blow up in the city’s face when the sea floor is scooped out to accommodate garbage barges.

“The area has been dredged several times over the years, and it’s unlikely that dredging there again would present any hazards,” Army Corps spokesman Chris Gardner said, refuting claims from civic leaders who say that dredging off of Bay 41st Street will turn the calm cove into a scene from the movie “Battleship.”

Opponents to the city’s plan to berth garbage barges at its proposed waste transfer station claim the unexploded shells — which fell into the drink when a Navy boat capsized near Gravesend Bay in 1954 — could go off if the bay’s bottom is disturbed.

Diver Gene Ritter said he found more than 1,500 unexploded shells at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge — about four miles from Gravesend Bay — in 2010.

But Mel Gagliano, whose family has run the Marine Basin Marina in Gravesend Bay for 50 years, claims that time and tide could have anchored the bombs off his starboard bow.

“After twenty years, a couple of hurricanes, and some winter storms, things could have scattered around,” Gagliano said, adding that the previous dredgings in the 1960s and in the 1980s cut channels into the ocean bed — no where near the Bay 41st Street waterfront.

Assemblyman Bill Colton (DBensonhurst), who said he will sue to stop the city from running garbage barges out of Gravesend Bay, agreed that the Army Corps’ claims do not rule out the possibility that the bombs Ritter found won’t go off if the waste transfer station is built.

“If you hit it the right way, it could go off,” Colton said.

The Department of Sanitation wants to build the waste transfer station as a refuse hub for the borough’s garbage trucks. Trash from weekly pickups will be brought to the station and loaded onto barges headed for out-of-state landfills.

Neither the Army Corps nor the city provided Brooklyn Daily with information on the earlier dredgings.

Several agencies have already signed off on the project to run garbage barges out of Gravesend Bay — just a few paces from where an incinerator once stood.

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens went a step further, claiming that “no significant issue has been raised” to halt the city’s plans.

“The dredging issue was discussed and deemed not to be a danger,” a Department of Sanitation spokesperson said.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at Follow him on Twitter at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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