Now Growing in Brooklyn, a Waterfront Pile of Salt
The mound of salt in the Red Hook Marine Terminal soars over the waterfront, as white and dry as the sands of Coney Island and as tall as the four-story brick tenements across the street.
Salt piles, while not common, have been seen over the years in the neighborhood, which is on the border, roughly, of Red Hook and Cobble Hill. But residents said that this heap, at the corner of Kane and Columbia Streets, had risen dramatically over the past week. Not only that, they added, the constant breezes off the East River leave a gritty coating of salt on parked cars, plants, benches and apartment windows.
“It’s like a mountain,” said Brian Dennison, 46, a freelance editor who was standing in a bookstore opposite the mound. “How long will it be here?”
Over the last few days the salt pile has become an object of curiosity for those intrigued by the sights of a working waterfront, and a source of irritation to some who live nearby. People have shown up to photograph the mound or just gaze in silence.
Some blamed the salt for their itchy eyes or throats. On Sunday, Brian McCormick posted fliers that read in part, “Stop the salt pile menace.” The fliers encouraged residents to ask their elected officials to investigate.
Mr. McCormick said that salt had been stored since February inside the northern part of the terminal, running along Columbia Street. But over the last week, he said, the size of the pile had practically doubled. And on windy days, he added, thick clouds of salt spread onto Columbia Street.
“It’s like whiteout conditions around here,” he said. “You have to cover your eyes; you have to cover your face.”
On Sunday afternoon, an employee of American Stevedoring, which leases the terminal from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said that salt was being temporarily stored there before being shipped throughout the state. The man, who was reached on the telephone and would not give his name, said he did not know what the salt would be used for.
“We’re taking every safety measure,” he said. “There’s no harm from the salt.”
Others, however, said that the salty film adhering to surfaces was unpleasant and could damage plants and trees. While it was not as thick as, say, the salt on the rim of a margarita glass, one could trace one’s name in it on a glass table in a courtyard.
A view from a nearby rooftop showed derricks with huge shovels attached appearing to move salt from a ship called the Nordstar into metal funnels on the waterfront. Trucks took loads from the funnels, then drove several hundred feet to the salt pile. Several tractors, a pickup truck and a dump truck lumbered atop the pile, smoothing parts of it. Occasionally, clouds of salt billowed above the heap.
On the sidewalk below, Philip Calvalo, 46, looked at the mound as he waited for the B61 bus. He said he had not made up his mind about whether the pile was as troubling as other atmospheric contaminants.
“We’re breathing in smog and all types of fumes and chemicals,” he said. “At least salt is part of the earth.”
By COLIN MOYNIHAN
New York Times
Entry filed under: Brooklyn, Dive In, Working Waterfront. Tags: American Stevedoring, Columbia Street, East River, port authority of new york and new jersey, Red Hook Piers, salt pile, Working Waterfront.