Superfund after 10 years

10 years ago today (September 28th) Newtown Creek was designated a federal Superfund site. Dozens of responsible parties identified; thousands of pages of reports written and re-written; millions of data points collected; hundreds of hours of community meetings; and untold millions of dollars spent to date. But where are we after a decade?

The EPA has determined that the toxins within the Creek pose threat to human and ecological health, but have yet to set cleanup targets or outline a plan for remediation.

The agencies have identified shorelines where upland contamination seeps into the waterway- but not all have been properly addressed and ongoing seepage still continues.

We are, today, still awaiting the first formal decision from the EPA: a proposed ‘no further action’ regarding the billion gallons of untreated combined sewage that poisons the waterway every year.

And in regards to getting shovels in the ground to remove toxic sediments, we are years away from a record of decision but instead are currently awaiting EPAs review of a plan to focus on the cleanest areas of the Creek (proposed by the responsible parties no less).

While the dangers of sea level rise and storm surge on surrounding communities is now entirely apparent, there have been no significant measures put in place to protect surrounding businesses and homes when the waters next rise.

And yet during this time, more and more people now access and utilize the Creek. New businesses and facilities have been established along the waterway; local residents pitch in for street-end cleanups and planting projects; educators utilize the #newtowncreek as an educational resource for their students; and recreational use of the waterway itself has blossomed since 2010.

We knew Superfund was going to be a marathon. A thorough and effective cleanup is needed now more than ever and we can’t let up now.

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