Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To Superfund or not to Superfund

It's hard to understand why the Mayor's office is against Newtown Creek and the Gowanus Canal from potentially receiving Superfund status. I've lived in Greenpoint, close to Newtown Creek, for eight years and have been somewhat involved in the movement to clean up that place and make the polluters (Exxon and friends) pay for the mess they made. The Greenpoint Community and the non-profit Riverkeeper have worked hard to raise awareness about the pollution levels in the creek and in the ground beneath us. After so much hard work, finally Newtown Creek is being considered for the most rigorous environmental clean up process there is in this country. Bloomberg, doesn't want the Superfund program implemented, but says that through a collaborative effort with the EPA, the city will be in charge of the clean up. After attending a meeting this evening where his office spoke to the community about the issue, I'm still confused about why they don't want the Superfund.

What I could understand is that the Mayor's office doesn't want EPA running the show. And while it considers cleaning up water pollution important, it doesn't want it to impede development and business growth in the area. It's true that the Mayor has a city to run and many issues at hand, so he needs to look at how the Superfund will effect everyone. Having a Superfund site in your backyard reduces property value, increases business insurance, can slow down or terminate development projects, and they are a very slow process. To clean up Newtown Creek, the EPA estimates about 16 years, most of that time will be spent on research. So the Superfund process isn't flawless, and perhaps the city will have to make sacrifices in order to have cleaner water. But surely the Mayor should remember from the controversy over Congestion Pricing, that even if the right decision has problems it's still the right decision. What may be bothering Bloomberg most is the idea of someone else calling the shots.

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