Creek clean up in coney – New hope for foul waterway

April 30, 2007 at 2:02 am 2 comments

Local residents may have noticed construction equipment and workers on the shores of the Coney Island Creek recently.

That’s because the Phase II cleanup on the toxic former Brooklyn Borough Gas Works, 873 Neptune Avenue, is in full motion after starting in January.

The 16-acre site, which used to house a manufactured gas plant (MGP), and is now owned by the KeySpan Corporation, is bound by the Coney Island Creek to the south and east, the Belt Parkway to the north, and a New York City Transit Yard to the west.

Under New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulations, all MGP sites are classified Class 2, meaning they pose a significant threat to the public health or environment and action is required.

Prior to the remedial actions, a DEC investigation of the site found all of the organic compounds, metals and other material contaminants associated with an MGP site.

The Brooklyn Borough Gas Company put their first generator on the site in 1908 and, except from 1960-1966 the site was used for some type of manufacturing until the end of the 1970s.

The investigation also found site-related contaminants found in the groundwater seeped into the rest of the Coney Island Creek that runs from Shore Road and empties in the Gravesend Bay.

However, the study noted the creek is also subject to contamination from many other sources, including the city’s storm sewer discharge.

The remedial investigation additionally found potential exposure pathways to humans including through eating, drinking, breathing or direct contact with contaminated soil, water or air around the site.

The investigation found a majority of the contamination is found on sub-surface soil and the site is securely fenced against trespassing.

According to DEC spokesperson Kimberly Chupa, the work began on January 22, and currently, contaminated soil is being excavated within the sheet pile walls constructed in Phase I of the project and is being brought off site.

Chupa said work is also being done to divert the creek to prepare it for dredging.

“It is anticipated that in the next several weeks the dredging of contaminated sediments in the creek will begin,” said Chupa in an e-mailed response.

“Three feet of contaminated sediments are expected to be dredge from the creek. Following the dredging the creek will be capped with clean soil,” she added.

According to the latest DEC fact sheet related to the clean-up, the 18-month remedial construction project includes:

• Excavation and removal of the top three feet of contaminated sediments across the entire length and width of the Coney Island Creek adjacent to the site. The estimated volume of contaminated material is approximately 58,000 cubic yards.

• Placement of a geotextile fabric after the creek excavation, to separate the three feet of a clean sediment-quality backfill material from residual soil.

•Removal of contaminated materials along the banks of the Creek, as well as the existing wooden bulkhead.

• Creation of a 50 foot wide Ecological Buffer between the Creek and site.

• Excavation and off-site disposal of approximately 55,000 cubic yards of soils from coal tar source areas in the upland portion of the site. The excavation will reach the groundwater table, approximately six feet below ground surface.

• Backfilling on-site excavated source areas with stabilized material obtained from processing excavated creek sediments and imported clean soil.

• Construction of a groundwater collection trench and recovery wells to collect MGP-related contaminants found in the groundwater.

• Construction of an on-site treatment plant to treat the liquids collected in the recovery trench, prior to discharge to Coney Island Creek.

• Construction of an environmental cover for the upland portion of the site to facilitate surface drainage and erosion control and installation of a gas venting system.

Despite its toxic nature, the clean-up site area involving the Coney Island Creek does have some fish and other marine life.

Chupa said the clean-up portion of the creek is a tidal estuary; therefore, it is almost completely dewatered at low tide.

Typically, the fish come in and out with the tides and on average the fish found in this portion of the creek are not legal-sized game fish, they are mostly bait fish and juvenile striped bass and bluefish, said Chupa.

Chupa said the creek habitat in this portion does not currently maintain a high-quality habitat for marine life or aquatic vegetation.

That said, Community Board 13 District Manager Chuck Reichenthal said the Coney Island Creek is getting better, but remains toxic.

“It’s gotten cleaner by itself over the years, but far from what it should be. One finds plants and fish there now, but don’t eat it,” cautioned Reichenthal.

For more information on the Brooklyn Borough Gas Works Site Hotline, call (718) 403-2900.

Courier-Life Publications

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gene Ritter  |  October 1, 2007 at 12:46 am

    For more photos on the Coney Island Creek cleanup effort . See the photos on our web site. I run the barge operations. The job is going well.

  • 2. Gene Ritter  |  October 1, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    For more photos on the Coney Island Creek cleanup effort . See the photos on our web site. I run the barge operations. The job is going well.


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