On October 7, 2014 at the Bushwick Inlet Park Meeting Room, NAG [Neighbors Allied for Good Growth] held the first event in our Community Environmental Health and Justice Mapping Project event series. Funded by a grant from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, NAG is creating a GIS map of toxic “hot spots” in the Greenpoint/Williansburg community.
by NAG intern Jessica Podkalicki
The event began with an insightful introduction by Council Member Stephen Levin. The Council Member spoke about some of the different types of contaminants that exist in Greenpoint. The Council Member expressed his appreciation of NAG and other community organizations that have made it their mission to improving environmental health and justice in our community.
Next was a presentation by Mike Schade, a local Greenpoint resident, advocate and chemical expert. Mike discussed in detail the former NuHart Plastic Manufacturing site in Greenpoint.
Not long ago, New York DEC declared the Greenpoint site as a State classified Superfund. The site is dangerously located across a children’s playground; the groundwater and soil in and around the site is contaminated with liquid plasticizers and petroleum. One chemical found on the site was DEHP, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identifies as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” and linked to reproductive and developmental problems. This and other toxic chemicals from the site have been migrating off-site into the community towards a proposed school site.
Mike enlightened us all on the background and chemical contamination of the former NuHart Plastic Manufacturing site. Mike explained the slow progress of the clean-up of this Superfund site, the significant threats that the site still poses to public health in the community, and how community members can get involved in oversight of the clean-up process. Click here to view Mike Schade’s PowerPoint slides from this presentation.
After Mike Schade’s presentation, Jane O’Connell (Chief, Superfund and Brownfield Cleanup Section, NYSDEC) joined us for a Q&A session about the NuHart site.
Lastly, two of NAG’s interns—Carimaxy and I—got the opportunity to talk to the community members. Carimaxy shared with everyone her knowledge on the mechanics of geographical information systems (GIS), the program NAG will use to map out the sites of concern and interest in the community. I also solicited the audience for individual opinions of what sites and other information to include in this map.
Thankfully we go some great feedback from the community (those who attended), and we will incorporate its input into this project.
Here are some of the suggestions that audience members made:
- waste transfer stations
- cancer clusters
- gas holding stations
- chemical spills
- air quality
- remediation action plans
- trucking routes/traffic
- Brownfields & Superfund sites (past and current)
- fire maps
- lead poisoning
- water testing/quality history
- endocrine/hormonal health survey
If you have other suggestions, you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out The Greenpoint Gazette’s coverage of our event here: NAG To Mark Toxic Sites on Interactive Map.