Community Health

Dividing Western Queens from Northern Brooklyn, Newtown Creek is one of the oldest industrial corridors in the United States. From the 1800’s to the present, the Creek has served and continues to serve as a center for manufacturing and living-wage jobs in New York City. Sixty years ago when New York City was the manufacturing capital of the world, the Creek was the busiest industrial port in the Northeastern United States, the value and volume of its cargo exceeding even that of the mighty Mississippi. Unfortunately, the industrial history of the Creek and the decline of American manufacturing after World War II also left behind a legacy of pollution, abandoned and underutilized properties, and unemployment.

At least 69 of the 174 lots that form the Creek waterfront are known or suspected contaminated sites and many are abandoned or underutilized as a result.  At any given time, plumes of oil can be seen seeping into the Creek from the massive 17-30 million gallon ExxonMobil oil spil, and groundwater discharges into the Creek are laden with toxic chemicals from hundreds of contaminated upland and shoreline sites.  Within one mile of the Creek there are hundreds of brownfields, 18 State Superfund sites, 19 waste transfer stations, dozens of instances of hazardous vapor intrusion in homes and businesses, 12 registered point source air emissions facilities, and the largest sewage treatment facility in New York City.  Moreover, the Creek annually receives 2.7 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater from 22 permitted combined sewer overflow pipes. Creekside neighborhoods are also heavily impacted by automobile emissions from the Brooklyn-Queens and Long Island Expressways.

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