The Gunk Under Greenpoint – Environmental Forum on the Harmful Chemicals Lurking at the NuHart Toxic Waste Site

The NuHart Toxic Waste Site – Harmful Chemicals Lurking in Greenpoint. This event will be the fourth & final forum by Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning (GWAPP) in a series of panel discussions about the environment in Greenpoint.
Thursday June 30
7:00-8:30pm
McCarren Pool Community Roomurl
776 Lorimer St BK NY 11222

Hidden beneath an old shuttered industrial factory in Greenpoint is an estimated 60,000 gallons of toxic chemicals, substances linked to reproductive harm including birth defects, learning and behavior problems, and asthma.

The NuHart Plastics Superfund site is an old vinyl plastics plant located across the street from a park and proposed school in northwestern Greenpoint that has polluted the soil and groundwater of the area with phthalates and trichloroethylene (TCE).

Come learn about the site and efforts by grassroots neighborhood groups, elected officials and residents to get this site cleaned up once and for all. Find out about the hazards of phthalates and TCE from an internationally recognized researcher and physician, the status of the site and clean up proposals being considered, and how you can get involved in the campaign to clean it up.

Speaking at the event will be:
· Dr. Leo Trasande, a physician, researcher and Associate Professor in Pediatrics, Environmental Medicine and Health Policy at NYU.

· Mike Schade, Greenpoint resident, board member of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) and national environmental health policy expert

Free! Food and refreshments will be provided.

This event is sponsored by Greenpoint Association for Parks & Planning (GWAPP) and Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG).

About the Speakers

Leonardo Trasande, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Environmental Medicine and Population Health

Dr. Trasande’s research focuses on identifying the role of environmental exposures in childhood obesity and cardiovascular risks, and documenting the economic costs for policy makers of failing to prevent diseases of environmental origin in children proactively. Dr. Trasande is perhaps best known for a 2012 Journal of the American Medical Association study associating Bisphenol A exposure in children and adolescents with obesity, and a 2011 study in Health Affairs which found that children’s exposures to chemicals in the environment cost $76.6 billion in 2008. His analysis of the economic costs of mercury pollution played a critical role in preventing the Clear Skies Act (which would have relaxed regulations on emissions from coal-fired power plants) from becoming law. He has also published a series of studies which document increases in hospitalizations associated with childhood obesity and increases in medical expenditures associated with being obese or overweight in childhood. These studies have been cited in the Presidential Task Force Report in Childhood Obesity, and another landmark study identified that a $2 billion annual investment in prevention would be cost-effective even if it produced small reductions in the number of children who were obese and overweight. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Council for Environmental Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee for the World Trade Center Health Program. He recently served on a United Nations Environment Programme Steering Committee which published a Global Outlook on Chemicals in 2013, and on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mike Schade, Board Member of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG)
Mike Schade is the Director of the Mind the Store campaign with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (a national coalition of 450 organizations), which is challenging the nation’s leading retailers on creating comprehensive chemicals policies and eliminating harmful chemicals such as phthalates. For the previous nine years, Mike was the Markets Campaign Coordinator with the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), a national environmental health organization where he led national campaigns to phase out PVC plastic, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA) and dioxin. Prior to CHEJ, he was the Director of the Buffalo office of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, a NY statewide environmental organization. Mike lives in Greenpoint and serves on the Board of Directors of NAG, as well as the Steering Committees of the Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group (CAG) and the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance (MPNA). He received a BS in Environmental Studies from the University at Buffalo.

GWAPP Environmental Forums are made possible with funding provided by the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund.

Lead in Garden Soil Project Update and info

Hey NAG!

lead_spotlight2-1

In North Brooklyn, we are fortunate enough to be part of NYC’s water supply coming from the Catskill Mountains, which is highly regulated and protected.  Although our tap water comes from upstate, older piping sometimes leads to household lead in water.   Our groundwater, which has been polluted through various industry and oil spills, does not impact our drinking water because we do not consume our groundwater.  Thanks to public pressure, the city has recently stated they are going to test the water inevery public school for lead contamination.  This is a move in the right direction considering lead exposure causes developmental issues for young children.

To help educate our community about the risks and relationship Greenpoint has to lead poisoning, we decided to start small, with our elementary school children.  Not only are they the highest risk- but they are our future! We will be working with Eco Schools to create curriculum and educate young people on this issue.  Check out National Wildlife Federations Eco Schools program video to learn more.  Hyper-localizing ourselves, we will teach facts about lead and give local examples of contamination.  We are also working with Dr. Cheng at Brooklyn Colleges Environmental Sciences Analytical Center, to conduct workshops in various community gardens around Greenpoint! We will be holding multiple, interactive workshops where you can bring your soil to get tested on the spot! More information to follow

Food Loss? More Like Food Recovery!

Our Reduce Reuse Recycle Greenpoint restaurant sustainability program

is going well! We are analyzing data from our waste audits along with our Sustainability Best Practices questionnaire with the help and support of Common Ground Compost and Brooklyn Allied Bars and Restaurants.

 

As we work with restaurants on their waste reduction,  we are finding less than 15% of restaurant waste actually needs to go to landfills! This is great news and we are working with commercial waste haulers to make sure organic and recyclables get redirected from landfills.

What about food loss? Food loss is edible food that could be recovered or re purposed to feed people instead of being disposed.  Taking this issue from the farm, 40% of all food grown in the US is thrown away before it’s eaten.  That’s 53 million TONS of food!  Not only is 1 in 6 New Yorkers food insecure, but when our wasted organics go into the landfill and break down, methane is released- which is the most harmful greenhouse gas that causes climate change.

 

Through our Restaurant Sustainability programming, we are working to compost the inedible food waste, recycle the recyclables and feed our community with the edible food loss.  This image of Food Recovery Hierarchy created by the EPA goes into more detail.

RESTAURANT PEOPLE! Stay tuned for all this and more in our Sustainability Best Practices Brochure and in the meantime, here are some great orgs that will work with you on food pick up!

890e0c05-b5c1-4337-8fa2-2757a77d5dc9

City Harvest

Scheduled doners  646.412.0758.

Call in donors 646.412.0758

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

info@rescuingleftovercuisine.org

Food Bank for NYC

Lee Cheney- Food Sourcing Manager

(212) 566-7855 x2250

lcheney@foodbanknyc.org

Where is our Metropolitan Bridge area Bike Route?

Hey NAG!

The DOT (Dept of Transportation) presented a plan for a bike lane in 2015 for the Metropolitan Bridge area and no action has been taken. Our board chair, Rita Pasarell YaSbE03qTsJoEQNC1mnDRhbeVMW-4fkAkrCbrXAoCPwmade a comment to Community Board 1 this week regarding this issue and asking for a vote and support. NAGBikeLaneCB1June14 (2)

We need the community board to vote! Contact Community Board 1 and our local elected officials!

At present, the area surrounding the Metropolitan Bridge lacks any bike lane, and on the Queens side, it contains a very sharp “blind” turn.  To make matters worse, Metropolitan Avenue  is a truck route, and there are at least 23 waste transfer stations within a mile of the bridge (that count is just on the Brooklyn side alone).   The disproportionate number of waste processing facilities in our area leads to a tremendous amount of truck traffic, which  is a death trap for  cyclists.­­ Over the past year, there were several cyclists killed in truck crashes in Brooklyn.

KAIKAXP4SLTDIELJG3IM4LVGZUIXZCUL1ZPHZW205RA3VEVD

 

The  2 DOT’s Metropolitan Avenue Bike Route presentation notes 225 cyclists in a 12 hour period at a nearby intersection.  In a 4 hour period during “rush hours”, a community group recently counted 750 trucks at nearby intersection.

 

 

 

NAG Testifies at NYS DEC Hearing regarding Waste Transfer Stations Regulation

Last week, NAG Board Chair Rita Pasarell and NAG’s Environmental Organizer, Allison Currier, testified before the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation regarding their new Part 360 Regulations for waste transfer stations around New York.

Currently here in NYC, all of our waste is taken to transfer stations where it is processed, then sent to landfills or recycling facilities.  These facilities are privately owned and are currently unregulated.  The NYS DEC Part 360 Regulations will take a95d82c76-6ac5-4693-95a9-89e0d0286e52 step in the right direction, by permitting waste transfer stations.  Our issue is within the loopholes of this new regulation which affects our community of North Brooklyn who live nearby the cities densest collection of waste transfer stations.  These loopholes allow any facility taking in 250 tons of waste or less, to continue going unregulated.  Most facilities around residential areas are below that size and will not gain any environmental justice from this DEC regulation.

We spoke alongside the Transform Don’t Trash Coalition, New York Lawyers for Public Interest, New York Environmental Justice Alliance, Williamsburg Greenpoint Organizations United For Trash Reduction and Garbage Equity, and others!

 

Us environmental justice organizations weren’t the only ones in the room testifying.  Concerns from the waste industry spoke about new regulations leading to job losses and size reduction.  For an industry that has be extremely unregulated for a long time, the city should be supporting this transition to keep waste transfer stations running with environmental justice in mind!

June 28!! NAG Environmental Happy Hour

Interested in environmental issues? Join your North Brooklyn neighbors for a drink!

The talks are ~brief~ so that you’ll have plenty of time to grab a drink and talk directly with the experts and your neighbors.

Muchmores bar & venue
2 Havemeyer St (at N9th) in Williamsburg

Tuesday, June 28th, 6:30-8:30pm
(presentations 7:00-7:30pm)

This happy hour will be hosted by NAG organizer Jennie Romer (a nationally recognized environmental sustainability expert and founder of plasticbaglaws.org) and will feature short (5 minute) presentations:

Eadaion Quinn is the Education Coordinator at Sims Municipal Recycling. Sims is the contractor for the City’s residential curbside metal, glass, and plastic recycling and have a beautiful high-tech material recovery facility in Sunset Park (yes, tours are available!). Do you ever wonder what happens to your recyclables? Come prepared to ask Eadaion your toughest recycling questions.

Naama Tamir owns Lighthouse Restaurant in Williamsburg and is on the sustainability committee for Brooklyn Allied Bars and Restaurants (BABAR). Namma has incorporated sustainability practices into all parts of her business and will share some of her insight.

Adanna Roberts, Citizen Participation Specialist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, will talk about DEC’s programs.

Zhongqi (Joshua) Cheng, PhD, Chair and Associate Professor at Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Director of Environmental Sciences Analytical Center at Brooklyn College will give an overview of NAG’s public outreach and education program for home and community gardeners and students in Greenpoint focused on good gardening practices to reduce lead exposure.

We’ll also have brief updates on Bushwick Inlet Park and the NuHart Superfund site.

Let us know we’ll see you there!!

Mayor’s Plan to Create Database to Track Rezoning Process…Enough?

In an article published by Citylimits.org yesterday, our board member Ward Dennis commented on the importance of public space and affordable housing.

Community organizations who focused on rezoning accountability from Mayor Bill De Blasio’s office have spoken out about the city’s plan to create a Database to track rezoning processes.  This bill, Intro 1132, if passed, would “establish an online public database to track the city’s commitments to rezoning neighborhoods”.  It calls for an agency under the mayor’s office to manage the database and produce a yearly report with the city’s progress on each commitment.

This is overall, a good thing!bushwick-inlet-park3-537x358

Our board member here at NAG, Ward Dennis, calls for that transparency and more.  Ward takes it a step further and reminds us, and Mayor De Blasio that prior community promises must be made before development should go on.  For example, the Greenpoint/Williamsburg neighborhoods were promised both parkland and affordable housing and Ward believes those promises should be kept before new, development continues.

Next 2016 Curb Your Litter Cleanup! Sat., June 11

Join the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce and Neighbors Allied for Good Growth to pick up southwest Greenpoint with Curb Your Litter: Greenpoint!

Come out to Greenpoint Beer and Ale on Saturday, June 11, 10am to meet your neighbors and make Greenpoint a healthier and cleaner place to live.  All volunteers will get a free lunch as a thank you for their hard work!

Let us know we’ll see you there!

Learn more about the litter problem in Greenpoint, check out a great map, and see some policy suggestions at the Curb Your Litter site.

Reduce Reuse Recycle Greenpoint Updates!

Who would have thought working with restaurant waste would be so fun??

 

Our GCEF Reduce Reuse Recycle Greenpoint project has been going great so far.  Our friends at Common Ground Compost (CGC)have been working with six chosen restaurants including Ovenly, ESME, Lobster Joint, No Name Bar, and Greenpoint Beer & Ale.   CGC has met with staff from each establishment during after hours, to go through their waste and audit their waste management processes.  Is there compost in the recycling and recycling in the garbage? How efficient are their bin systems?  What changes can each business make to redirect waste from landfills? These questions are being answered as we continue our audits and collect our Sustainability Best Practices questionnaire. Are you involved in a Greenpoint Restaurant? Please take our Questionnaire so we can get a better understanding of sustainability in Greenpoint food establishments!

A big part of the concern we’ve been seeing from businesses is the hauler relationship and a lack of trust.  In NYC, waste for public and residential buildings is a responsibility of the city.  Private businesses, like restaurants, have to work with commercial hauler companies, which are run privately.  A lot of these 200 companies around the city are proven to be less regulated with harsh working conditions and high community and environmental effects. Understand this issue further by reading this articlelogo combination image for RRR project

 

Also, stay tuned because we will be having workshops coming up, where we’ll be providing specific information on waste management and sustainability for restaurants and bars.

Thanks for Your Support NYS Assembly Member Joe Lentol!

12994415_614749395345407_2800224689547627662_nAs you can learn about in this New York Times Article, the City Council voted in favor to charge 5 cents/ plastic bag used at qualified businesses!  This was a huge victory in our efforts to clean up our community and encourage New Yorkers to bring their own reusable bags while shopping.

Lentol to Heastie Re Disposable plastic bags

 

Our friends at Bag It NYC and others are working hard to make this a reality, and unfortunately the state legislature is being pressured by the plastic bag industry and there is now pushback.   We would like to thank New York State Assembly Member, Joe Lentol for this support and public opposition to this NYS bill!

 

ladyliberty_bagitnyc-join

 

 

 

How can you support this work? Please Sign this petition, share it widely, write to your senator and say NO to S7336.