2001-10-13 / Editorial/Opinion

Breaking Its Own Rules

Breaking Its Own Rules

When a homeowner or a business in Rockaway or Broad Channel wants to repair a bulkhead on the Jamaica Bay front or build a dock out into the bay, they are given a solid "no" by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The bay is a fragile ecosystem, we are told, not to be messed with in any way by man. Now, however, the DEP has a problem. It has to complete some emergency repairs to its wastewater treatment plant at Flatlands Avenue in Brooklyn. The agency’s solution: dump 60 million gallons of raw sewage into the bay each day for three days. That amounts to somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 to 200 million gallons of sewage. That is not a neighborhood we would like to enter. We have also been told by local plant workers that the Rockaway plant has a similar problem and might have to be closed down for a few days, with the result of even more dumping, at a date somewhere not too far in the future. What we can’t understand is how the DEP can break its own rules about the bay ecology with such impunity. The agency has been given the go ahead by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). We have to believe that, had the agency planned for such a shutdown, we would not now be facing a polluted bay with lots of odors and thousands of dead fish. To his credit, Congressman Anthony Weiner got on the phone with EPA head Christie Whitman and got the dump into the bay postponed for at least one day so that the community can address the question in a rationale way. We are sure that the dumping will go forward, but we would ask for two things from the DEP in the future: warning to the community on the dumping plan and a comprehensive plan to handle emergencies such as these without despoiling the bay and breaking its own stringent rules. Meanwhile, we urge all local residents to stay away from the bay for a few weeks. Do not fish in the bay, do not swim in the bay and certainly, do not eat fish from the bay. The life you save may be your own.


Return to top


Email Us
Contact Us

Copyright 1999 - 2014 Wave Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved

Neighborhoods | History