With the long awaited cleanup of the Newtown Creek finally scheduled to begin this fall, the public was invited to learn more about the project at two EPA information sessions held at LaGuardia Community College on October 27.
Local residents and LaGuardia faculty and staff spoke to EPA representatives and perused posters that graphically laid out the first-year activities of the 17- to 22-year-long project that is expected to cost up to $1 billion. Funding the project are New York City and five companies—Phelps Dodge Refining Corporation, Texaco, BP America, Inc., National Grid and ExxonMobil Oil Corporation--that were responsible for polluting the 3.8-mile waterway.
In the first phase of the remedial investigation/feasibility study process, which will kick off the first week of November, the group will begin fieldwork by sampling sediment, water and air to learn the extent of the pollution and to calculate the human and ecological risks. Analysis of the data and further sampling will continue until the fall of 2012.
“We first have to define the problems, and there are many,” said Caroline Kwan, Remedial Project Manager, “before the actual cleanup can begin.”
This isn’t the first time that LaGuardia has lent a hand to clean up Newtown Creek; this June, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney held a Newtown Creek information sessionat the College with EPA Officials and members of the Queens community.
Under the leadership of Dr. Sarah E. Durand, an associate professor in the Natural Sciences Department, LaGuardia students and faculty have been continually monitoring and testing the water of the creek since 2009.
Last spring a proposal submitted on behalf of the College’s developing Environmental Science program was selected for an estimated $0.5 million of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant mitigation fund. The proposed project includes the installation of wetlands around the creek, which will filter sediments and start a process of natural remediation.
To read the EPA's October 2011 Community Update, click here.