Toxic Brooklyn

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oilonbuilding_site_6.jpg I stumbled upon this multi-part web series on the Greenpoint/Williamsburg oil spill and aftermath via Green Brooklyn. It’s some scary entertaining shit.

Update: For more information on this issue, check out the section of Riverkeeper’s web site devoted to it.

12 Responses to “Toxic Brooklyn”

  1. Greenpoint Archive Says:

    The oil story is 30 years old and was never hidden. The clean up has been going on since the early 90’s with regular annual public meetings in the community providing updates. Health data shows no abnormal spike in health related issues even after 50 years.
    VBS also conveniently leaves out 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.
    The oil is not oozing up as the video suggests. There are no vapors covering the community as the video suggests. VBS never explains that Dorothy Swick’s problem arose because a neighbor decided to illegally drill for a well in his backyard thirty feet down to reach a contaminated aquifer. Her vapor problem was created by that stupidity, not by any oil bubbling up.
    Athough “Toxic Brooklyn” covers some of Williamsburg’s environmental issues in the first two episodes, they also carefully mixed in many clips of people saying how much they love Williamsburg. Even the narrator announces “everyone wants a piece of funkytown”. The video is laced with attractive shots of billyburg shop and boutiques. When it comes to Greenpoint, no such video. Only repeated clips of our notorious Laura Hoffman complaining and lying about the neighborhood. The video never mentions that she is one of only six residents who joined Riverkeepers lawsuit against the oil companies for the oil spill, or that none of the six plaintiffs live above the spill. 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. Mrs. Hoffman has been a loud voice protesting the rezoning and waterfront development in Greenpoint. This may explain the purpose of her scare tactics.
    Tom Stagg, who is in the video, claims to be living on top of oil even though Newell Street is not where the spill is. What a sloppy fact checking job VBS did with this. You see, Mr. Stagg’s property is adjacent to McGuinness Blvd which went through a major reconstruction including digging all of the old building foundations from the street. No oil was found during the project. Mr. Stagg is not telling the truth. Greenpoint has lower cancer rates than Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights and many other Bklyn neighborhoods. It also has some of the lowest cancer rates in all of nyc/nys. These stats can easily be seen at
    http://www.nyhealth.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/pdf/volume1nycneighborhoods.pdf
    But of course that was never mentioned in the video. Just 5 straight episodes dedicated to spreading exaggerations and lies about Greenpoint.
    Cutesy shots of hipsters frolicking in Williamsburg juxtaposed against two questionable individuals making claims that people in Greenpoint are falling victim to cancer makes it clear what VBS’s agenda is. 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. Hope VBS got a nice check for their work. What’s the going rate for slander these days?

  2. Greenpoint Archive Says:

    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.

  3. everydaytrash Says:

    Thanks for your in-depth perspective, Greenpoint Archive. I see you’ve been posting near-identical comments wherever links to this video series appear. Looks to me like you’ve got enough content to start your own blog!

    Leila

  4. Williamsburg Archive Says:

    Why is the so called “Greenpoint Archive” trying to lay all the blame on Williamsburg? Aren’t there enough problems for us to share? And why doesn’t “Greenpoint Archive” leave a real email address ever on any the identical posts left in relation to this issue. Something is fishy in Greenpoint. But hey it aint the fish. Ever been in Newtown Creek?

    The Archivist of Williamsburg

  5. everydaytrash Says:

    Ooh, battle of the archives. I love it!

  6. Greenpoint Archive Says:

    The only thing fishy is the number of Williamsburg not-for-profits and blogs working overtime trying to spread lies about Greenpoint. All of my facts are verafiable which is more than I can say for VBS’s info. The truth hurts sometimes. All of the condos being built on the East River in Williamsburg are on toxic brownfields that were identified by your own “Watchpersons project” Organization. The Roebling Street luxury condos are being built on top of the Astral oil spill. They are actually laying plastic down under the foundation to prevent deadly vapors from getting into the building. All of Greenpoints condos are being built on clean soil (formerly farmland). The Newtown Creek oil spill in not under the residential sections of Greenpoint which is more than I can say about the Willimsburg condos. The Archivist of Williamsburg is a liar.

  7. Greenpoint Archive Says:

    Sorry for the typos on the previous post.
    The only thing fishy is the number of Williamsburg not-for-profits and blogs working overtime trying to spread lies about Greenpoint. All of my facts are verifiable which is more than I can say for VBS’s info. The truth hurts sometimes. All of the condos being built on the East River in Williamsburg are on toxic brownfields that were identified by your own “Watchpersons project” Organization. The Roebling Street luxury condos are being built on top of the Astral oil spill. They are actually laying plastic down under the foundation to prevent deadly vapors from getting into the building. All of Greenpoints condos are being built on clean soil (formerly farmland). The Newtown Creek oil spill is not under the residential sections of Greenpoint which is more than I can say about the Williamsburg condos. The Archivist of Williamsburg is a liar.

  8. Greenpoint Archive Says:

    For all those looking for proof that the 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 sign of oil vapors 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.

  9. elephanttube Says:

    Hello, I check your blogs like every week. Your humoristic style is witty,
    keep doing what you’re doing!

  10. remedios para los Says:

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  11. Sherrie Says:

    –Last time verifiaby indie env studies were done in the BrookIyn areas discussed was WHEN ? Thanks in advance for repIies -Sherrie

  12. Laura Risi Hofmann Says:

    “Greenpoint Archives” does not sign their name because they aren’t able to. Why? Because I’m telling the truth. In fact, this video I created hasn’t been updated to include further information. Pictures speak louder than words. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIywes3DP1k
    Unlike “Greenpoint Archives”, I’m able to post my name.

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