2003-02-01 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks and Stones

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

National late night radio recently had an expert on-air who claimed that the U.S. Space agency was practicing an ancient Egyptian ritual in the scheduling of its flights into space and in its trajectories. To his mind, as the Earth and Mars draw very close together, this great nation increasingly is acting as did Egypt in 2700 B.C., attacking Sumeria, (where Iraq is now situated). So, is there an Abraham out there ready to purify the faithful?

Of course, that is no excuse for the terse hieroglyphics of my previous column. Let my readership accept this column for translation as follows:

  1. Regarding the Port Authority of NY and NJ (PANYNJ), the agency has a Port Improvement Plan so that it can compete with other East Coast Ports. Channels have to be deep-ended, unloading and loading docks set up, truck/barge ‘intermodal arrangements’ planned, etc.
  2. To protect the NYNJ Harbor area environment, there is a $60 million proposal that involves federal/state/PA Contributions) while Port expansion take place. Port trade means big business and lots of employment. Towards the horizon big freighters can be observed at anchorage waiting to enter the Port. It was timely for the last column that a Dutch cocoa freighter caught fire off Rockaway and made the tabloids as well as The Wave.
  3. Rockaway/Jamaica Bay’s connection to the PA plan is the attempt for a number of years to change the bathymetry of the Bay. But the "shallowing" (or "re-contouring’) will be using toxic dredge spoils from other parts of the harbor! Even if designate "clean: (neither contaminated nor toxic), the definitions depend on government sources are hard to trust and certainly for all loads dumped, "Mistakes" happen! These chemicals in the sediments dredged evaporate with possible health impacts. The clean sand caps over contaminated dredged sediments don’t perfectly confine these chemicals.
  4. Eugenia Flatow (Coalition For The Bight) is content with these planned disposal operations and is with government when it calls a "disposal operation" a "restoration!" The Wave Editor, Howard Schwach, viewed a tape of Norton Basin (off Bayswater Far Rockaway) marine life and all who viewed the Natural Resources Protective Association of Staten Island tape were impressed. But government scientists are not discouraged and are given support by the power elite.
  5. Eugenia Flatow has worked for the Corps of Engineers and sees a Citizens Advisory Committee as balancing public concerns and business (part economics, e.g. cheaper to dispose in Jamaica Bay than decontaminate and use elsewhere). The definition is flawed given the existence of business lobbying groups, etc.
  6. Albert F. Appleton (former City Environmental Protection Commissioner and now Senior Fellow at Regional Plan Association), Eugenia Flatow (Director, Coalition For The Bight), and Jim Tripp (Co-chair, Dredged Materials Management Integration Work Group and Director Environmental Defense Fund) are noteworthy environmentalists with concern for regional economics of the Harbor and environmental protection. But….
  7. When Friends of Rockaway, at his co-chaired meeting says that Rockaway/Jamaica Bay concerns are being ‘triaged’ by PA disposal planning, it never gets into the minutes while government scientist (Army Corps) pilot project plans for Jamaica Bay progress is reported. And Eugenia Flatow, who has worked as an engineer for that agency, just listens….
  8. So Rockawayites and others interested in this part of the Harbor should address a protest to stop the plans for using Norton Basin and the rest of the Bay as a toxic dredge spoils dumping site. Write to: Len Houston and Bob Will, U.S. Army Corps Scientists, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – N.Y. District, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY 10278. End copies of your protest letters to The Wave and elected officials.

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