Toxic avengers! Red Hookers want Gowanus sludge pier

Toxic avengers! Red Hookers want Gowanus sludge pier
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Welcome to the Sludge Hook pier!

A band of Red Hookers say the federal government should approve a plan to turn sludge dredged from the toxic Gowanus Canal into a concrete landmass off the community’s shore.

Members of the Red Hook Houses Community Action Coalition say they’re all-in on the controversial plan that would turn the treated muck into a massive landmass jutting off concrete titan John Quadrozzi Jr.’s property at the foot of Columbia Street because its construction would bring much-needed jobs to the neighborhood.

“This is something to look forward to,” said coalition member Ray Hall. “People can change their lives tremendously by having a job.”

The feds say that the construction of the landmass, which is called a “confined disposal facility,” will build out the waterfront at the Gowanus Bay Terminal and Gowanus Industrial Park. They also claim it would create up to 60 jobs over the course of six years.

Workers would drain the grime on Quadrozzi’s property, mix it with cement-like materials, then store it as stabilized concrete inside a bathtub-like fixture made of reinforced steel. The fixture would be buried in the Gowanus Bay and connected to Quadrozzi’s property.

Once the project is done, Quadrozzi can do whatever he wants with the land as long as he complies with federal guidelines, said Environmental Protection Agency officials.

The concrete tycoon said that he would use the new land to grow his shipping terminal, expand maritime development in Red Hook, and create a public park.

“This is an opportunity for (Quadrozzi) to build up the waterfront and be consistent with everything else going on in Red Hook,” said Hall.

Not surprisingly, the plan to bring the muck sitting at the bottom of Brooklyn’s nautical purgatory to a different neighborhood has been attacked by some. Anti-sludgecrete activists have blasted the proposal on their website “No Toxic Red Hook,” claiming they fear for their health, say the terra forming would create a flood risk, and worry the plan would have an adverse affect on the Hook’s nearby pool ball fields.

But government officials say the sludge used to construct the landmass would be dredged from the least-contaminated section of the canal bed — which is south of Hamilton Avenue — moved by barge, and treated to remove toxins such as coal tar and heavy metals. This would eliminate any health risks, they claim.

And some Red Hook Housing residents are taking the feds on their word.

“The EPA has never done anything to harm us,” said Lille Marshall, Coalition member and head of the tenants association for Red Hook Houses West. “This is for the betterment of the community.”

Superfund project manager Christos Tsiamis has said at numerous public meetings that if there is large community opposition to the on-site disposal facility then the agency will ship all of the sludge to a licensed treatment facility.

The 90-day public comment period on the proposed plan ended April 27, and the governments final plan will be released by the summer.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.