The Department of Defense will investigate whether live ammunition is still sitting in Gravesend Bay more than 50 years after it was accidentally dumped there — a key win for opponents of a city plan to put a garbage transfer station near the possibly explosive site.
The federal agreement to scour Navy archives comes just a month after Assemblyman William Colton (D–Bensonhurst) dredged up the half-century-old story of a barge that capsized in the bay in 1954, reportedly sending more than 200 tons of live ammunition to the bottom.
News accounts from the era reported that most of the live ammunition was cleaned up, but Colton and Rep. Vito Fossella (R–Bay Ridge) asked the Department of Defense to make absolutely sure before the city begins dredging the bay to make way for the large, trash-hauling barges that will dock at the station, to be located on Shore Parkway at 26th Avenue.
The feds complied.
“My office has already assembled a team including our Naval historian, explosive ordnance experts, and the Army Corps of Engineers dredging experts, who are actively collecting this data,” Assistant Secretary of the Navy BJ Penn wrote to the lawmakers this week.
The waste-transfer station is a central element in Mayor Bloomberg’s garbage plan, which the Council approved last year.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Sanitation said that even though the transfer station would be located two miles from the site of the overturned vessel, the city would take the results of the investigation into account.
Meanwhile, a noted environmental lawyer has joined Colton’s crusade to stop the garbage-transfer station.
Attorney Joel Kupferman and Colton have called on the federal government to declare Gravesend Bay a “Superfund Site,” citing over 30 years of illegal incineration at the defunct Southwest Brooklyn incinerator.
Any success on that front would result in a mandatory clean-up of the site, which would further delay the construction of the waste transfer station — possibly long enough to force the city to find a new site.
“Nothing short of an enormous environmental assessment and remediation program can help undo the damage that an illegal incinerator has done to Gravesend Bay for over 30 years,” said Colton.