Newtown Creek, which serves as the border between Queens and Brooklyn, is one of the dirtiest bodies of water in the nation. Congresswoman Maloney has long supported its inclusion on the Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites and was pleased when, on September 27, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would be included. This clears the way for the EPA to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the creek, development a remediation plan and implement the plan. Congresswoman Maloney intends to ensure that EPA is comprehensive in its approach and that Queens, along with Brooklyn, is given appropriate attention in the EPA’s clean up plans.
The EPA's preliminary estimates place clean up costs at around $300-400 million dollars. The EPA has identified EPA has identified six Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) for the Newtown Creek site: BP America, Inc., The Brooklyn Union Gas Company d/b/a National Grid NY, The City of New York, ExxonMobil Oil Corporation, Phelps Dodge Refining Corporation and Texaco, Inc. These PRPs will pay the lion’s share of the cleanup costs.
EPA concluded that metals, volatile organic compounds, and semi-volatile organic compounds (including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls) were present in Creek sediments at elevated concentrations. In a study conducted in 2007, EPA estimated that the amount of oil released into the creek is three times the amount that spilled from the Exxon Valdez – roughly 30 million gallons of oil. Additionally, oil distillaries and other industrial operations on both sides of the creek discharged tens of thousands of gallons of liquid waste each week for decades. There's so little oxygen in the water that fish that drift into the creek die from lack of oxygen.
Newtown Creek was historically an industrial center. By the end of the 19th century the creek was lined with oil refineries and petrochemical plants, fertilizer and glue factories, copper-smelting and fat-rendering plants, shipbuilders, sugar refineries, hide tanning plants, canneries, sawmills, paint works, and lumber and coal yards. During World War II, Newtown Creek was the busiest industrial port in the Northeast, with tanker traffic lining its length.