New York Shitty Day Starter: Live From The Polish National Home…

The Public Meeting Regarding The Newtown Creek Superfund Site

To preface: My footage/documentation of this hearing is truncated because;

  1. I left the battery for my digital camera at home. (Hey, occasionally shit happens at Chez Shitty!)
  2. This meeting, which was scheduled to last two hours, ended up being more or less redundant. E.g.; More or less the same complaints/concerns were raised followed by more or less the same answers. (Thus, I feel a lot less guilty for forgetting my battery.)

Nonetheless, I got the presentation in its entirety along with a few questions from the audience (which, it should be noted, became much more substantial after the conflicting meeting regarding the Nassau Avenue Reconstruction meeting was dismissed). Without further ado, here we go!

Parts I – VI: Introduction & Presentation

Part VII: The Q & A Session Kicks Off

Part VIII: Laura Hofmann Speaks

Part IX: A Bone Fide Old School Greenpointer (and all-around Garden Spot/environmental badass) Irene Klementowicz Tenders Her Two Cents

Part X: A Resident Of Oak Street Speaks

It was at this point I— and my electronics— gave up. However, I did take notes. Here they are (in no particular order):

1. It was asked by one citizen if they (being the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection) have considered posting notices at local fishing supply shops. They stated they were not aware of any. To wit, he replied:

There’s one two blocks from here.

This was met with surprise by the panel of experts present.

2. It was asked if there are any grants available (via the Department of Health) which would enable community groups to conduct a more comprehensive/focused study. The answer was (essentially) “not that we know of”.

3. It was pointed out by a member of the audience— at the Polish National Home (AKA: The Warsaw)— that little to no outreach has been made by either the Department of Health or the Department of Environmental Protection to the Polish community in Greenpoint, viz a viz, through its local Polish language newspapers. It was agreed by the officials present that this was a sterling idea and solicited information as to whom they could contact. Yours truly helped with this endeavor by giving them the contact information for a reporter at this newspaper.

4. Kate Zidar, Executive Director of the Newtown Creek Alliance, reiterated that these meetings are “repetitive” and advised the civil servants hosting said forum to “take notes” in the hope that— moving forward— these convocations (and health studies regarding the manifold number of toxins manifest in Greenpoint) can move forward. Ms. Zidar was advised notes were, in fact, being taken— and this was pretty awesome given the following:

We do not want a “perfect” health study. We want a health study.

Then she followed this statement up with the following bits of data:

  • In January of 2007 the Newtown Creek Alliance sent a letter to the Department of Health requesting a comprehensive health study of the Greenpoint Oil Spill.
  • After a meeting with the Department of Health in March 2008, the Newtown Creek Alliance (which will henceforth be called the “NCA” — Ed. Note) requested (among many other things) that a skilled Community Liaison be enlisted by the Department of Health. This has not happened.
  • After a meeting with the Department of Health in October of 2008 Ms. Zidar notes the map (and I quote) “does not include features agreed upon at previous meetings”. Which, as I intuit, would include a 1/2 mile radius versus a 1/4 mile radius (from which the Department of Health is operating currently) because…
    • a great deal of residential property is excluded by the current demarcations. Thus this current study is more an occupational/workplace study than one of long-term, consistent exposure.
    • Such a study should include/take into consideration other “hot spots” such as the “Greenpoint oil spill” and “Meeker Avenue Plume”. To date, it does not.

 5. The previous was not overlooked by our local politicians*:

  • Among them our City Councilman, Steve Levin (as seen above texting), noted:
    • He resides not only atop the “Oil Spill” but the “Plume” as well.
    • A half-mile radius study should be employed.
    • To merely focus on the creek is to focus on one part of a manifold number of environmental (and therefore: health-related) problems in Greenpoint.
  • Lincoln Restler (whose back can be seen at right) added his two cents. They were basically as follows: This is an ongoing problem. At what point will we get an honest, expanded study (and due process) so future generations of Greenpointers do not experience and/or are afflicted with what our predecessors— such as Ms. Hofmann and Ms. Klementowicz— have witnessed?

If the intransigence and “timetable” I witnessed last night— coupled with Ms. Klementowicz’s piquant observation:

By 2023, we (This being the people doing the complaining at last night’s meeting— Ed. Note.) will be dead.

this will be continued…

*It should be noted a representative of Joe Lentol’s office was present as well. I do not recall her name, but the DOH/DEP panel made note of her arrival.

THIS WEEK: Public Meeting Regarding The Newtown Creek Superfund Site

Lil Swimmer

As some of might of you, gentle readers, might recall the New York State Department of Health recently released a Public Health Assessment about our very own Seine: Newtown Creek. Among the amazing revelations to be found in this document were:

  • Eating fish and crabs taken from Newtown Creek could harm people’s health, due to the chemical contaminants. *Women under 50 years old and children under 15 years old should not eat any fish or crabs from these waters. Others should follow the State Health Department advisories for eating fish and crabs taken from this and other waterways.
  • Swimming, scuba diving and wind surfing (with full body immersion) could harm people’s health, due to biological contaminants and physical hazards (underwater debris, commercial boat traffic).
  • Canoeing, kayaking, boat touring and catch-and-release fishing* are not expected to harm people’s health, if people use precautions (properly washing their hands) to avoid swallowing biological contaminants from surface water.

Long story made very short: a number of individuals dispute the veracity of these findings. Among them a lady named Laura. She writes:

Please see the NYSDOH notice I’ve attached, along with my comments to the agency.

For me, this is one of the most important meetings I will ever attend.

The New York State Department of Health is coming to Greenpoint and Long Island City to present their public health assessment related to the Newtown Creek Superfund process.

Their documents can be found at this link And folks can still submit comments until May 4th. (Emphasis mine.— Ed. Note)

You’ll see that the agency is assessing the state of our community health (past and present ) in terms of direct contact with the creek, and in terms of the current way of assessing the effects of chemical exposure on our community. That’s not acceptable! Community residents have long complained about our poor environment and the effects it has had on our community. We all know that the chemicals pouring into the Newtown Creek, started on shore in our community. A sewage treatment facility, oil plumes, chemical plumes,  multiple waste transfer stations, a municipal incinerator, pvc manufacturers and other facilities lined the Newtown Creek. Most are still there.  Community members have become ill as a result.

My mother, father, and their dog all died of brain disease. A human case of CNS lymphoma, a human case of progressive supra nuclear palsy, and a canine case of encephalopathy, were not looked at in terms of a possible chemical exposure. There’s something wrong with that.

Now is your opportunity to speak up and demand environmental justice.  Please attend this important meeting.  Demand a real health study and changes in how the agency looks at chemical exposure in our community.

I’m asking family, friends, and community to come out and speak up.

Mark your calendars, show up and speak out, Greenpointers!

May, 24, 2012
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Polish National Home (AKA: The Warsaw)
261 Driggs Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11222

NOTE: You can also tender your sentiments via snail mail. Here’s how!

The public comment period has been extended. Comments on the draft Public Health Assessment are encouraged and should be sent to the Department of Health by June 15, 2012.

Please return your completed comment form to:

New York State Department of Health
Bureau of Environmental Exposure Investigation
Flanigan Square
547 River Street, Room 300
Troy, NY 12180-2216
Fax: (518) 402-7859

*No specifications were made regarding the ever prevalent Coney Island Whitefish as seen at the beginning of this post. But then again, I suppose it caught something and was released!

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