2001-12-15 / Editorial/Opinion

Don’t Dump In Jamaica Bay

Don’t Dump In Jamaica Bay

The message delivered by those who live on the bay and want to protect it is a clear and simple one: "Don’t Dump anything, clean or dirty, into the borrow pits at the eastern end of the bay." That message was given last week to representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) by Jim Scarcella, the president of the Staten Island Friends of Clearwater and of the Natural Resources Protective Association, an umbrella organization for environmental groups concerned with the bay ecology. They have a lot to be concerned with, and so do we in Rockaway in light of the fact that the bay touches life in this peninsula from one end to the other. The concern comes from the fact that there are "borrow pits" in the bay, deep canyons dug from the bay bottom to provide landfill for the runways at JFK Airport and for other development purposes. The Army Corps of Engineers and the other agencies are now contemplating filling those borrow pits with toxic soil dredged from New York harbor. It seems that the harbor must be dredged often to keep the deep channels open so that large ships can access the lower bay. That toxic sludge was at one time dumped out to sea, but the federal government put an end to that some years ago. The sludge has to go somewhere, the argument goes, why not Jamaica Bay. The government says that the borrow pits are "degrading," that there is no marine life in them and that filling them would be beneficial to the bay and to Rockaway. Scarcella, however, does not believe that and he proved it with a videotape that was played for The Wave recently. The tape, shot in a borrow pit in Norton Basin, nearby Bayswater, clearly shows marine life – hermit crabs, blue-claw crabs, sea robins, sea-bass and other life teem in the borrow pits. We believe that the government, in an attempt to find a place to dump some really dangerous, toxic sludge that they must dredge from the harbor, has decided once more to dump on Rockaway. It is time for our state and federal representatives to get busy and make sure that it doesn’t happen. They have to tell the government to find another way, that Rockaway has been dumped on once too often and we will not allow it to happen again.

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