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Contractors dumping toxic gunk into Gravesend Bay

Brooklyn Daily
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The contractor dredging Gravesend Bay to make room for a controversial waste transfer station dumped metal and contaminated mud into the water and defied state-issued work permits by failing to halt the operation or report the breach to officials, according video captured by Assemblyman Bill Colton (D–Bensonhurs­t).

The footage shows a dredging bucket operated by contractor JT Cleary dropping mud and metal in the bay as it swings toward a barge meant to haul the refuse. The operation is digging up toxic dirt buried below the bay floor and re-introducing it into the ecosystem, Colton said.

“This is an environmental catastrophe,” he said. “What they’ve done is gone 20 feet into the ground, scooped up the most toxic kind of sediment that has been covered for last 20 years, and now they’re bring it up into the air, and it’s all dropping back into the water. They’ve violated all the dredging guidelines that they promised they would follow.”

A 2013 soil study of the bay’s bed found traces of cancer-causing pesticide Chlordane and insecticide Mirex — both banned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

State-issued permits stipulate the contractor may not loose “excessive water or sediment from the time the bucket breaks the water’s surface to the time it crosses the barge gunwale,” but video clearly shows just that happening.

Under the terms, JT Cleary is supposed to immediately halt operation if such a breech occurs, but it did not, Colton said.

The contractor is expected to dredge up enough sediment to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, according to a letter the city’s Department of Design and Construction issued in December.

The new transfer station, which loads garbage from city trucks onto barges for processing outside of the city, is planned for a city-owned lot near Bay 41st Street that was home to a trash incinerator that operated without a permit for 40 years. Locals have complained the station should not open, because they shouldered the city’s garbage burden for decades while the dirty incinerator was operating.

Colton lauded the transfer station plan in the early aughts, but later reversed his stance, claiming the dredging process would pull up toxic muck and unexploded artillery shells that detractors claim are resting on the bottom of the bay.

The video proves Colton’s fears are coming true, but the mayor hasn’t stepped in to remedy the situation, Colton said.

“It’s everything I had warned the mayor about — everything I had warned the sanitation department about, and it’s happened,” he said, adding Mayor tall has only responded to his repeated prods for action with “platitudes about ‘Everything is gonna be fine.’ ”

Representatives from JT Cleary did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reach deputy editor Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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