Archive for the tag 'department of environmental protection'

Mark Treyger (Source: Assemblyman Bill Colton’s office)

New York State received $340 million dollars from the federal Environmental Protection Agency last week to upgrade sewage and drinking water plants to protect against future storms like Superstorm Sandy. Local City Council candidate Mark Treyger, running for the 47th District covering Coney Island and Gravesend, is calling on the state to steer those funds to the Coney Island Sewage Treatment Plant on Knapp Street, saying it needs it the most.

Of the $340 million, most of it – $283 million – is earmarked specifically for sewage plants. The funds are part of a the Sandy emergency relief package approved by Congress at the beginning of the year, and are aimed at making upgrades that would keep raw sewage contained instead of discharging into public waterways – as is the case during heavy rainfalls when the plants’ tanks overfill.

Treyger said in a press release that the local plant should be a high-priority for the state because of its vulnerable location and its trouble grappling with Superstorm Sandy. The press release said:

“Coney Island was one of many New York communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. During, and in the immediate aftermath of the storm, people who were unable to evacuate, as well as those who quickly returned to their homes, did not have access to clean drinking water or reliable sanitation services,” said Treyger.

The Coney Island Waste Water Treatment Plant, located on Knapp Street, was hit with a cascade of problems during Hurricane Sandy. Water from Shell Bank Creek came over the bulkheads and flooded the building. Flood debris clogged vital parts of the plant and power was lost and to make matters worse. To compound the problems a 72 inch outfall pipe had been previously shut down for repairs.

“Our part of coastal south Brooklyn – not just New York and America’s playground – is particularly vulnerable to future natural disasters. In the event that another storm, of similar or even greater magnitude to Sandy, hits our area, we must be prepared. I strongly urge New York to use the money given to us by the Environmental Protection Agency to, among other critical projects, expedite desperately needed sewer upgrades in Coney Island.”

But the state says that the $283 million, which will be dispersed to municipalities throughout the state, is but a drop in the bucket to make the repairs needed. EPA officials are directing municipalities to request additional funds via grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and FEMA.

Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the city’s sewage treatment plants, told Sheepshead Bites that the Knapp Street plant was just one of many that took damage. They said 10 of the city’s 14 sewage treatment had some degree of damage and service issues, but they were all at 100 percent functionality as of February 10. They added that the funds from the EPA are being coordinated through the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, and that the DEP had not yet received details about the allocation.

File photo

Homeowners around the city received a letter from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection recently, informing them of a new insurance program covering the water and sewer lines connecting their homes to the public system. The timing of the letter – just weeks after Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the area’s infrastructure – raised alarm for many, who sent Sheepshead Bites e-mails and Facebook messages wondering if this was a scam.

Well, it’s not. We spoke to Department of Environmental Protection representatives last week, and the program has been in development since long before Sandy.

“In terms of this program, while the timing is a coincidence, it does not have anything to do with Hurricane Sandy,” said Chris Gilbride, communications director for the DEP.

Keep reading to find out more about this program and what it covers.

Source: BrokenSphere via WIkimedia Commons

Styrofoam is perhaps one of the most space-aged products mankind has ever invented. But, though the stuff is soft, lightweight and relatively durable, its also a dangerous environmental hazard. Because of this, the Sanitation Department is looking for a city-wide ban on the product, according to a report by DNA Info.

The legislation being proposed would place the focus of the ban on businesses and not consumers.

“This would not be something that the consumer would have to deal with,” said deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability Ron Gonen, “From a pure dollars-and-cents standpoint, it costs us money to dispose of Styrofoam in a landfill. It’s also unhealthy for the environment. It doesn’t break down properly.”

Instead, the ban would fine or heavily tax businesses that continue to order and distribute Styrofoam in large quantities, forcing them to find more environmentally favorable alternatives.

“We’re either going to ban your product or packaging, or make you pay to have it sent to a landfill,” Gonen said.

Councilman Lew Fidler, who had expressed support for a ban in the past, reaffirmed his support for the new ban proposal.

“I would love to move this bill forward, as it would be a help to both our environment and to our businesses through tax incentives,” Fidler said in a released statement.

A little duck walks around the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Source: peterjr1961 / Flickr

The Jamaica Bay Task Force (JBTF) will hold its next meeting January 29, 6:30 p.m. at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 175 Crossbay Boulevard in Broad Channel, Queens. The public is invited to attend and partake in the open discussion period.

New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Carter Strickland will be on hand to discuss the DEP’s response to Superstorm Sandy and Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Linda Canzanelli will give the National Park Service’s update on damage to the Wildlife Refuge from Sandy.

Project Managers Dan Felt and Lenny Houston will highlight Jamaica Bay projects currently being undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers and Region 2 Director of the NYS DEC, Venetia Lannon, will talk about DEC’s response to Sandy.

A question and answer session will follow each presentation.

To learn more about what the JBTF does and how to get involved, contact Don Riepe of the American Littoral Society at (718) 318-9344/driepe@gmail.com or Dan Mundy of the Jamaica Bay EcoWatchers at (718) 634-5032/dmundy5032@aol.com.

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Local mariners have something to be happy about this New Year: the Department of Environmental Protection reversed course on plans to destroy a 78-year-old navigational aid between Manhattan Beach and Breezy Point that mariners say makes them safer and shows them the way home when gizmos can’t.

According to documents released under a Freedom of Information Law request filed by Sheepshead Bites, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection decided to leave a wastewater diffuser pipe that locals affectionately refer to as the “roundhouse” after sailors and other mariners objected to its removal.

“Comments received questioned whether it would be more advantageous to leave the existing outlet chamber in place,” DEP reps wrote to partnering agencies in a September 2012 letter. “If kept, it could serve as an underwater fish habitat and provide opportunity for sea birds to perch.”

It wasn’t just the environmentalists that the DEP sought to please; the agency determined the now defunct roundhouse served a crucial purpose for navigation, and as a marker for underwater infrastructure that could damage vessels.

Continue Reading »

Source: Nigel Chadwick via Wikimedia Commons

City and state environmental agencies are adding three new air monitors in regions most affected by Superstorm Sandy. The air monitor stations will measure fine particle matter in order to collect data on what, if any, air contamination resulted from Sandy’s impact.

Air monitors have already been put in place in our area including at spots in Gerritsen Beach, Floyd Bennett Field and Mill Basin. These monitors, operated by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), have reported that “all readings were in compliance with federal standards.”

The new stations will be located near Holland Avenue in the Rockaways, Lincoln Avenue near Father Capodanno Boulevard in Staten Island and Water Street near John Street in Lower Manhattan.

According to a joint press release from the aforementioned DEC, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Health (DOH) and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), “[T]he state’s network of rooftop air monitors does not reveal a pattern of higher concentrations since Hurricane Sandy and DEP’s testing of asbestos at debris piles have also come back negative.”

In other words, so far, so good.

Even though the initial air quality reports seem promising, the DOHMH has created a Sandy Health Portal website, which provides information on outdoor air quality, vital mold cleanup tips for storm-damaged homes, and other health issues.

New York City is suspending water bills for residents whose properties suffered the worst damage from Superstorm Sandy in an effort to ease the financial burden on victims.

Residential and commercial properties that the Department of Buildings has tagged red or yellow – those which have significant damage or are now uninhabitable – will not have to make a monthly water bill payment until June 1, 2013. No bills will be sent until May 1, 2013.

Standard fees for preoprties where water service has been disconnected from the city’s water supply because of damage will also be waived by the Department of Environmental Protection, and interest fees and collection actions on delinquent accounts have been suspended.

The city has also announced two property tax relief measures for homeowners that suffered storm damages to their properties, including an interest-free extension of the next property tax bill from January 1, 2013, to April 1, 2013.

More than 3,000 properties are eligible for the extension, and the average property tax bill is $506. The City has also proposed to reimburse homeowners for a portion of the taxes paid this fiscal year. The measure requires State approval and if enacted, more than 900 properties would be eligible, with an average rebate of $794. The Finance Department is also working to ensure that the property tax assessments for FY 2014 reflect the post-hurricane conditions.

“For those faced with the hard work of rebuilding after the storm, we are doing all that we can to provide assistance and relief,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement announcing the changes. “By deferring water bill payments and other charges, New Yorkers can focus their attention and money on more immediate and pressing needs.”

This is kind of funny that this was sent out this evening, especially since I can’t imagine anyone thought to get a permit before pumping water out of their flooded homes, but, via the Department of Environmental Protection…

To assist in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection today announced that permitting requirements for businesses and homeowners seeking to discharge water from flooded properties into the City’s sewer system are temporarily suspended. If water contains significant recoverable material, such as fuel oil floating on water that could cause significant further damage to the structure if not removed first or significant environmental damage, all reasonable measures should be taken to collect and properly dispose of the material prior to pumping out the structure. This action is authorized under the attached communication from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The suspension of permitting requirements remains in effect until November 6, 2012, and applies only to flood-related discharges where an expedited response is needed.

Where a significant spill has occurred, the owner or operator must report the spill to the New York State Spill Hotline (1-800-457-7362) and use environmental contractors to handle, treat and dispose of such substances properly prior to discharging to the City sewer system. Contractors who collect and dispose of released petroleum or hazardous substances must comply with all requirements for the handling, treatment and disposal of the collected materials.

Additional guidance on the above requirements can be found at the following weblinks:

DEP encourages New Yorkers to exercise caution when coming in contact with floodwaters. In cleaning homes, business and properties that may have come into contact with contaminated water, New Yorkers should consult these tips from the Health Department for treatment and removal to prevent illness and further contamination:

What if the flood water contains sewage?

Take extra steps to protect your health if the flood water contains sewage. Sewage contains germs that may cause stomach or intestinal infections if swallowed. Contact with sewage may also cause infections in cuts, scrapes and eyes.

To prevent infection you should:

  • Keep children, pets and people with compromised immune systems away until the area has been cleaned and disinfected.
  • Throw away any food (including packaged food) that was touched by sewage water.
  • Follow the steps listed below to protect against infection during cleanup.

Note: Unless otherwise notified, it is safe to drink tap water in an area with flooding. Sewage overflows usually do not affect water supplies in New York City.

How can I protect myself when cleaning up water containing sewage?

  • Pre-rinse fabrics with cold water to help prevent staining.
  • Launder with detergent. This will disinfect most items.
  • Dry thoroughly.
  • Dry clean items that cannot be laundered. This process will generally disinfect clothing.
  • Throw out soaked leather shoes, as it may be very difficult to disinfect them.
  • Speak to a professional trained in conservation methods about cleaning valuable papers and photographs.

How can sewage-contaminated rugs and carpeting be cleaned?

  • Clean small contaminated areas with detergents and disinfectants.
  • Dry thoroughly and quickly.
  • Hire a professional to clean larger areas.
  • Throw away soaked rug padding.

For more information about safely cleaning up after floods visit www.nyc.gov/health

Coast Guard and Department of Environmental Protection workers were at the Sheepshead Bay marina this morning, attempting to rein in spilled fuel that collected around the Ocean Avenue footbridge.

The fuel leaked into Sheepshead Bay from boats that were ripped apart and sank during Hurricane Sandy, just one of the many environmental terrors caused by the Frankenstorm.

The authorities were on scene at 3:00 p.m., beginning to set up floating booms to surround the area where it has collected, where they will then pull it in and suck the contaminated water out of the marina. As they worked, the air was thick with the smell of fuel.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has issued the following advisory:

Due to flooding and power related shutdowns caused by Hurricane Sandy, wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations have discharged untreated wastewater into New York City waterways. The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene advises that direct contact with the Hudson River, East River, New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay and the Kill Van Kull for recreational activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing or any other water activity that would entail possible direct contact with the water should be avoided until further notice.

The Department of Environmental Protection is responding to the impacts caused by Hurricane Sandy on its waste water treatment facilities and will monitor water quality conditions through testing to verify when these water bodies are safe for recreational uses.

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