Keyspan & State Reach Agreement on Brooklyn Toxic Cleanups
The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Keyspan have reached an expanded agreement on cleaning up several highly contaminated sites in Brooklyn, including two in Gowanus and one in Williamsburg. The sites were once home to Manufactured Gas Plants, which left behind an underground toxic stew of contaminants. The most prominent of the sites is the one known as Public Place in Gowanus. The expanded agreement, noted by Brooklyn 11211, is said by DEC to be key to "expediting the investigation and potential cleanup of these sites." Here's some of the text of the DEC press release describing the background:
The Thomas Greene Playground is atop part of the site of the Fulton Works in Gowanus. The Lowes and Pathmark in Gowanus/Red Hook are atop the Metropolitan Works MGP site. And the Williamsburg Works MGP is believe to be the site of significant underground toxins along the East River waterfront on Kent Avenue, close to the site of a number of luxury highrise developments.
From the early 1800s to the mid 1900s, hundreds of manufactured gas plants operated throughout New York State and other states, converting coal to a gas that was used for cooking and heating in much the same way that natural gas is used today. Prior to the widespread use of electricity, the gas was also extensively used for lighting streets and homes. When natural gas became widely available through the nationwide pipeline network, the local gas manufacturing facilities were closed down. The last MGP in New York State closed in 1972.
The legacy of contamination left behind by the principal gas manufacturing processes continues to be dealt with today. Large amounts of liquid waste, known as coal tar, often leaked into soils beneath the manufacturing sites. Lesser amounts of tar sometimes escaped from facilities, “Gas Holders,” where the gas was stored for local distribution. The tar has proven to be a persistent environmental contaminant. In response, DEC has developed one of the most aggressive MGP cleanup programs in the country, with over 200 sites across the state covered by consent orders reached with utilities over approximately 13 years...An implementation schedule for the order will be developed within the next month. The agreement will be binding on KeySpan and any successor companies. The additional sites to be investigated and addressed as part of the expanded consent order include:
Fulton Works MGP in Brooklyn, Metropolitan Works MGP in Brooklyn, Williamsburg Works MGP, Brooklyn Gas and Light Works MGP, Kings County Works MGP, Flatbush Station A&B Gas Holder, Scholes Street Station Gas Holder, Inwood Holder Station Gas Holder, Wythe Avenue Station Gas Holder, Belmont Gas Holder, Plymouth Street Gas Holder, Union Street Gas Holder.
New York State is continuing efforts to require the cleanup of additional KeySpan MGP sites. Consent order negotiations with the state are ongoing for 11 KeySpan alternative gas production and storage sites in Nassau and Suffolk counties. These sites did not manufacture gas from coal or petroleum and thus did not produce, store, or dispose of coal tar. However, as with many industrial facilities, environmental issues may exist. Requirements for further investigation of these sites will be included as part of negotiations for a separate order. An additional two Keyspan sites are not under a consent order, but are being pursued as part of the state’s lawsuit against major Newtown Creek polluters in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn.
Back When North Brooklyn Had Gas
Gas Pains: Underground Toxic Threat in Gowanus, Other Neighborhoods