Thursday, September 11, 2008
Company Accused of Illegal Dumping at Newton Creek
Riverkeeper, Gioia, Plan Lawsuit Against LIC Supply Co
By Conor Greene
A local City Councilman and environmental watchdog group are planning legal action against a Long Island City concrete manufacturer they claim illegally dumped waste into the Newtown Creek.
The environmental group Riverkeeper and Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) announced they have filed a notice of intent to sue NYCON Supply Corporation for discharging concrete waste into a tributary of the heavily-polluted Newtown Creek.
Riverkeeper, an independent organization dedicated to protecting waterways throughout the city, claims it observed NYCON employees dumping concrete waste into the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek without required Clean Water Act permits. The group also claims the company left piles of gravel and layers of concrete on the riverbed adjacent to the company’s facility.
The group filed a notice of intent last Thursday to sue NYCON, claiming the recent instance of dumping constitutes “an imminent and substantial endangerment to health and environment under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which is the nation’s primary law governing the disposal of solid and hazardous waste.
“The pollution issues confronting Newtown Creek and other waterways surrounding New York City cannot be fully addressed without enforcing environmental laws and holding polluters accountable for their actions,” said Riverkeeper Investigator Craig Michaels. “We will continue to work with elected officials and government agencies to track down and protect environmental lawbreakers who threaten the environmental and public health of our communities.”
Both the Clean Water Act and the RCRA allow citizen groups to sue polluters, subjecting violators to up to $32,500 in penalties per day for each violation.
“For too long, Newtown Creek has been the forgotten waterway of New York City, and polluters have taken advantage by dumping with impunity,” said Gioia. “We’re here today to send a strong message that we will not stand for more dumping and more pollution in the creek. Polluters beware: we are watching, we are vigilant, and we will go after you.”
The Newtown Creek is a three-mile long tributary of the East River separating Brooklyn and Queens. It was the site of a 17-million gallon oil spill in 1950, which continues to be the center of numerous lawsuits against Exxon-Mobil by environmentalists and lawmakers. Pollution at the site dates back to the 1870s, when dozens of refineries were located along the creek banks.
The creek was recently identified by the federal Environmental Protection Agency as a contaminated area warranting further study for possible inclusion in the Superfund program.