Buzzed Bands Podcast, Ep. 2 w/ Cold Blood Club

Friday, April 13, 2007

Toxic Brooklyn - Greenpoint Oil Spill

I always knew Greenpoint and Williamsburg were former industrial areas but I had no idea I was living on top of one of the biggest oil spills in history. The spill started in the 50's...and guess what - it STILL hasn't been cleaned up. That's right folks, when I said we're living on top of one of the world's biggest oil spills I wasn't speaking figuratively.


Anonymous said...

Although the community is unanimous in its determination to have the spill completely cleaned up and to reclaim the Newtown creek, some question whether the resurfacing of this nearly 30 year old oil spill story is being used to attack the community after it won its rezoning battle against the wishes of Brooklyn based politicians (and divert attention away from cancer cluster issue in Williamsburg). The media reports have not included the fact that: 1) More than half of the 17 million gallon spill has already been cleaned up. 2) The remediation process has been going on, with the blessing of local elected officials, since 1992 and continues. 3) The spill is almost entirely under the remote western industrial section of Greenpoint near the East Williamsburg industrial park. There are a few residential streets near Kingsland Avenue that are above the spill, but the vast majority of residential properties are not involved with the spill. 4) The Newtown Creek runs along Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Maspeth and Bushwick, but the news articles only mention Greenpoint. 5) The Astral Oil Spill in Williamsburg is not being mentioned. 6) Articles keep talking about what the long term health effects of the spill will be, but ignore the fact that the spill had been around for fifty years already and health data shows no abnormal spike in health related issues.
The Riverkeepers Group renamed the Exxon oil spill "The Greenpoint oil spill", in what some think was a mean spirited attempt to malign the Greenpoint community. It is curious to name an environmental tragedy after its victim and not the perpetrator. The Exxon Valdez disaster was not called the Prince William Sound's Alaska Oil spill. The NY Post, in an article on Oct 15th by Angela Montefinise, and Senator Charles Schumer at a press conference on October 16 incorrectly reported that there was a potential cancer cluster in Greenpoint near the oil spill. However, three cases of an extremely rare sarcoma cancer are actually on a single block in Williamsburg (nowhere near the oil spill, not even in the same zip code). One more case is five blocks away and even further away from Greenpoint and the oil spill. In fact, one victim got cancer after residing in the same apartment as an unrelated cancer victim and previous tenant. Sarcomas are a very rare form of cancer, and as reported in the Post article, "You don't see three in one block," Dr. Isaac Eliaz, a California expert on metal detoxification, said. "Someone should be paying attention to this." Dr. Kanti Rai, chief of oncology at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, agreed that it was "worth an investigation." Unfortunately, the Senator is calling for a health study with regard to the oil spill and is ignoring a potentially very serious heath disaster in the Williamsburg community. Neighborhood Roots has reached out numerous times to Senator Schumer's Washington office's communications director Eric Schultz, and Bret Rumbeck who handles environmental issues for the Senator, with no calls being returned.
Curiously, at the same press conference Congressman Anthony Weiner stated that Greenpoint has a 25% higher asthma rate than the rest of the city. The only problem is that the two health studies done by the state and city show the asthma rate in Greenpoint to be between 25% and 50% lower than the rest of the city along with a 10% lower cancer rate. The State DEC is aware of toxic industrial sites in Willliamsburg near Devoe Street that could potentially be the cause of these rare cancers, but no one is calling for that study. "Instead, there seems to be a no holds barred attack on Greenpoint and a blatant disregard for the health concerns of the Willamsburg community". One must question whether the recent support of massive residential development in Williamsburg and the historic resistance from Brooklyn politicians (including Borough President Howard Golden) to residential development along the recently rezoned Greenpoint East River waterfront (not near the spill) has anything to do with this dissemination of lies and the timing of these lawsuits.

Johanna Beyenbach said...

Depending on which part of Greenpoint you're in, you might not be living right on top of it. My roommate and I made sure to dodge the boundaries of it when we got our apartment.

Anonymous said...

Two health studies done by the state and city show the asthma rate in Greenpoint to be between 25% and 50% LOWER than the rest of the city along with a 10% LOWER cancer rate. The City health studies are available at Laura Hoffman, who is featured in the video, is one of the few plaintiffs suing the oil companies for the oil spill, so her misrepresentation of the health statistics have to be questioned. It is a tragedy to be dealing with an illness in the family, but that does not excuse anyone from spreading hurtful lies about a community. She mentions the Greenpoint Incinerator even though there is no Greenpoint incinerator. The smoke stacks the camera zooms in on are the Con Edison Stacks in Astoria. Don’t take my word for it. LOOK at the video! She also talks about a plastics factory that doesn’t exist. In fact the vacant building the camera focuses on is the Harte & Co building at 49 Dupont Street currently for sale for $43 million and is being represented by Massey-Knakel. She has been a loud voice protesting the rezoning and waterfront development in Greenpoint. This may explain the purpose of her scare tactics.

... said...

I don't think the point of the video was to slander Greenpoint. When I watched the clip I got the feeling they were simply trying to raise awareness. Whether or not the spill is effecting peoples health is not really the point. The point seems to be that there is a huge oil spill, at least 30 years old, in a major metropolitan area which has yet to be cleaned up. Whether people are getting cancer or not that is very irresponsible on the part of the oil company, and the city in enforcing a swift clean up. Somebody needs to get these fucking oil companies to be more responsible for their careless actions.

Anonymous said...

The point is that the VBS video lied about the vapors, cancer rates, location of the spill, size of the spill, progress of the clean up. The video is slanderous. And as I said, all these lies started when Greenpoint won its battle against Community Board 1 and local Brooklyn based politicians to have its East River waterfront (nowhere near the spill) rezoned for residential development.

Anonymous said...

For all those looking for proof that VBS lied in their video, you should go over to Tom Stagg’s Newell Street block today. He has three neighboring properties completing deep excavations for new sub basement foundations. The trucks are loaded with dirt. Guess what? It’s all clean. Not a hint of oil or contaminated soil. New gas line trenches are being dug one block down. No oil there either. Mr. Stagg is not telling the truth. The racist Williamsburg bloggers are desparate to push this smear campaign before the vapor data, which shows no signs of oil vapor is publically released. Nice try guys. Sell your toxic brownfield Williamsburg condos while you can. People are discovering the truth about your Greenpoint lies. As for VBS’s founder Spike Jonze, he went from producing jackass to becoming one.

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