The sound and the fury: Greenpoint irate about late-night construction noise

Coming soon — farts to fuel!
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig

By Aaron Short

After hours construction work at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant left Greenpoint residents praying for a silent night over the holiday season.

Since Dec. 19, neighbors of the often odiferous sewage facility claim they have been kept awake by late-night pile driving, which starts at 6 pm and does not cease until four or even five hours later.

“There have been incessant loud banging noises through all hours of the night,” said Greenpoint resident Mike Schade. “The plant should have taken additional steps to mitigate this nuisance to the community, especially during this special time of year.”

Last month, the city gave a contractor working on the plant special permission to drive piles until 11 pm. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, residents enjoyed peaceful nights, but the pile driving resumed after the holiday — and it’s not going to stop for weeks, the city says.

The construction work is part of an upgrade to the plant’s central residuals building — an undertaking that will centralize the handling and disposal of trash, sand, stones, grease, grit, and other materials removed from wastewater, according to Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Michael Saucier.

“We’ve been monitoring noise levels and there have not been any exceedances due to the pile driving work,” said Saucier. “The contractor has been using a cushion block installed in the pile driver hammer to dampen the noise.”

But community leaders say it’s not just the noise that’s bothering them — they’re also livid that they only heard about the construction work when they started, well, hearing it.

“We’re supposed to be told that they’re going to be pile driving and we’re supposed to inform the community,” said the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee’s Mike Hofmann, whose group is a liaison between the sewage plant and Greenpoint. “It’s like pulling teeth to get information.”

Complaints about sounds at the plant pale in comparison to complaints about smells.

Greenpoint residents have long blasted the Provost Street facility for emitting noxious odors, even during a $5-billion upgrade that brought the plant up to federal clean water standards.

As the plant strived to clean up its act, it has also opened itself up to the public, debuting a visitor’s center and holding tours of its iconic egg-shaped digesters.

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.