2001-09-15 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks & Stones

Sprayview Sticks & Stones

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

I don’t go to too many local meetings these days and one of the reasons is the limited disseminationof information. Thanks to Rey Clarke for reinforcing my analysis of, in this case, toxic dredge spoils dumping with Jamaica Bay as an easy target of opportunity for bureaucratic associations.

One of these is the NYNJ Harbor Estuary Program, which I have monitored since about 1993. The Jamaica Bay target was there then and is still there even though now, there is the "Pennsylvania Mines Option" for converting the harbor mud (contaminated from myriad industrial activities and a "chemically rich civilization") into a cement type material for resurfacing strip-mined coal seams and filling old coal mines (45 fires that the cement extinguishes).

The Pennsylvania Mines option should get local support to get the Port Authority of NY and NJ as well as NY State and NJ, as well as the Federal Government to fund this ‘beneficial reuse program’ to protect Jamaica Bay and Gateway National Park. But it’s cheaper to dump in the Bay Pits now!

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer is co-sponsor for A6871 to ban borrow pit use for the dumping. And S1460 is the State Senate equivalent. But if tricky language is used to call dumping "a restoration" (the cherry on top of a sand cap of questionable durability over time) then what happens and will the AG enforce the new law? Welcome to ‘double think – double speak’ in the Muddy Game of words and law.

Finally, since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the lead in this mud dumping project at Norton Basin, hopefully there is a research model for both that body of water and for Little Bay (the next scheduled dumping ground), to determine the degree of flooding that it will mean for the new homes along Norton Basin and to the Edgemere Renewal Area when both adjacent basins are shallowed up by the project.

The Army Corps of Engineers use these models to test how "engineered solutions will react to varied conditions. This one should be looked at by local officials as well as the community at large. The community turnouts for these meetings is usually small, but there are always a few people who manage to do the right thing.

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