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In Picture: Is the Gateway National Park Dump? We treat our water and air as such.

April 14, 2014

For over 200 years, dry garbage was used to fill waterways and wetlands, creating tens of thousands of acres of “valuable” waterfront real estate, including most of lower Manhattan, the Red Hook shoreline of Brooklyn, and almost the entire northern and southern fringes of both Kings and Queens Counties, upon which our airports were built.

..I think i’m pretty familiar with many polluted and toxic sites of New York City (and around the world), but walking on the Brooklyn side of Gateway National Park eroded beach, south of Marine Parkway Bridge, which less than two years ago Hurricane Sandy submerged into the water and exposed what use to be landfill, makes me sad the way many sad social justice issues do.

I’ve seen NYC beaches literally covered with dead clams and oysters, i’ve seen beaches covered with black tar rocks. I’ve seen mass die-off of Horseshoe Crabs, I’ve seen New York beaches when sewage treatment plant wasn’t working and all waste water was discharged directly into the ocean. I was on Rockaway when Hurricane Sandy hit Fort Tilden Beach and I spend time cleaning the beach afterwards.

I use the beaches for recreational purposes throughout the years, but walking on thousands of bottles, jars, sharp crushed glass, tires, plastic objects, industrial waste, but mainly beach covered in glass makes me sad.

It makes me think of all of the wetlands and beaches of New York City that were turned into landfills, buried under tons of waste, filled to the max, and covered with grass. Now we export our trash to burry wetlands and valleys in other countries.
In the mean time old landfills are getting eroded. They are polluting environment and leaking chemicals into our waters.

The only positive thing about this awful place is seeing smiling packs of young women and couples calling themselves “Bottle Bandits.” They are browsing through the sea of bottles, digging them out of mud and comparing them with each other.
Apparently these bottles are just like this landfill, pretty old and young people who are already struggling to sustain themselves in this economy, are able to sell them to other collectors, and grow their own collection of old and unusual glass bottles. (See pictures bellow)

Here are some of the chemicals found in New York Harbor surroundings:

PCBS
Between 1947 and 1977, General Electric dumped an estimated 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River. GE’s PCBs are now found in sediment, water and wildlife throughout the Hudson River ecosystem. They are also found in people. PCB is a carcinogens. In humans, PCB exposure has been scientifically linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive abnormalities, endocrine disruption, neurological dysfunction, and compromised immune systems.

MERCURY
Mercury is a metal that occurs naturally in the environment as a silvery liquid or as a vapor. When items containing mercury, like thermometers, are dumped in the trash, some mercury will eventually enter the environment. Coal burning plants, cement plants and other industry also release mercury as a pollutant. Mercury and mercury compounds can be found in air, soil and water. Mercury is also found in fish in the form of methylmercury. Fish absorb methylmercury from water and from eating smaller creatures that contain methylmercury. In humans, exposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic or organic mercury can damage the nervous system and kidneys. Children and unborn babies whose nervous systems are still developing, may suffer brain damage, behavioral and developmental problems from exposure to methylmercury.

CADMIUM
Cadmium is a naturally-occurring metal found in small amounts in soil and water. It is used in many industrial operations and in consumer products such as paints, plastics and batteries. Cadmium also occurs in foods, tobacco and can be found in fish and shellfish from some waters. Cadmium accumulates in the body, mainly in the kidneys, and with continued exposure can have effects on kidneys, bones and blood. In 1995, a Superfund cleanup removed cadmium-laden sediments discharged from a battery factory between 1953 and 1979 in Foundry Cove near Cold Spring.

STRONTIUM-90
Strontium-90 (Sr-90) is the latest of several radioactive isotopes, including tritium, cobalt, and cesium, to be discovered in groundwater wells or soil samples since a leak from the Indian Point 2 spent fuel pool was discovered in August 2005. Sr-90, one of the most toxic byproducts of nuclear power generation, is produced as a fission byproduct of uranium and plutonium. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the isotope can enter the food chain when released into the environment. Human ingestion of strontium-90 – either by drinking water or eating contaminated food products – is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and concentrates in bone mass. Exposure to strontium-90 increases the risk of numerous diseases including bone cancer, leukemia, and soft tissue cancer. According to scholars at Northern Arizona University, strontium-90, which behaves like calcium, is accumulated by organisms and passed along a food chain magnifying with each link in the food chain. Consequently, top carnivores can accumulate very high concentrations of this radioactive isotope, even if only very low concentrations are released to the environment.
– See more at: http://www.riverkeeper.org/water-quality/testing/what/other-pollutants/#sthash.DXag6cTa.dpuf

List of Superfund sites in New York http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Superfund_sites_in_New_York

NYC Superfund Listings http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/harborwater/superfund_listings.shtml

Fresh Kills Landfill is on the western edge of Staten Island http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fresh_Kills_Landfill

New York’s Giant, Beautiful New Park, Built Atop a Landfill, Makes New York City Millions http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1631126/

Garbage Land, by Elizabeth Royte, On the secret trail of New York’s trash http://www.lostmag.com/issue22/garbageland.php

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