Southern Brooklyn

Neighbors Report Headaches, Nausea Following Jamaica Bay Oil Spill

Source: Geoffrey Croft via
Source: Geoffrey Croft via

Early Thursday morning to Friday, 1,100 gallons of gas and oil spilled into the Paerdegat Basin Creek, which connects to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, after a pipe-cementing incident had gone wrong.

We reported on the story as it broke, and more information has since been released . Geoffrey Croft, blogger at A Walk In The Park NYC and founder of NYC Park Advocates has put together some photos of the environmental calamity and got feedback from local mariners.

“You could taste oil in your mouth” a boater said at the Midget Squadron Yacht Club, according to Croft, who also notes that neighbors were reporting headaches and nausea.

After the spill, the Coast Guard sent out pollution responders which included the FDNY, DEC and the Miller Environmental Group, an environmental waste crew. The cleanup crews are  laying down oil booms and blue absorbent pads in the water to help soak up the oil.

Over the weekend, officials were near the spill warning boaters and fishermen not to go near the water.

National Grid, which is the company that was replacing the pipe that initially leaked the toxins, was on hand, too. According to Croft, “Contractors were filling up multiple 55 gallons drums along Seaview Avenue in front of Canarsie Park.”

National Grid released the following statement after the spill:

On Sept. 27 National Grid and its contractor were working on filling in an old gas main that is no longer in service with cement.

During the process an oily water residue spilled from the exit pipe into a valve box. An odor from the residue was released, resulting in a number of odor calls. We were onsite with crews throughout the night investigating and did not find any gas leaks. We immediately notified the appropriate agencies and we and our environmental contractors are working under the direction of the Coast Guard and the NYS DEC to clean up a spill in Paerdergat Basin.

“Our whole club filled with gas,” said Mike Keller from the Diamond Point Yacht Club, a maritime club within the vicinity of the spill. “My car completely filled will the smell of methane gas to the point where I was gagging. This whole area was filled with methane gas, waves of gas.”

Keller also said the spill spread was pushed out by outgoing tides to Jamaica Bay on Friday.

“Coast Guard pollution responders, working closely with city and state partners, will ensure the responsible party performs a proper and complete cleanup of the spill site,” wrote Petty Officer Erik Swanson, Coast Guard spokesman in New York, in a statement.

If National Grid is found responsible for any wrong-doing, they will be fined.

Lisa King, from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation stated that the spill “contained some PCBs,” which is a persistent organic pollutant, whose production was banned in the late 70’s. She goes on to say that:

At this point, it appears the spill is contained to that waterway. National Grid was performing work in the area at the time. You need to contact them for more specifics on the work they were doing. We are advising against recreational fishing and boating in the waterway until further notice. National Grid hired a contractor to clean up the work that has been on scene since the night of the spill. DEC is overseeing the work with the US Coast Guard. Once the immediate spill clean up efforts are complete, DEC will conduct sampling to see if there is lingering environmental damage.

In the meantime,boaters are still asked to stay away from the contaminated site.

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