Williamsburg Waterfront Superfund Site Cleanup to Start Once Summer Activities End


    A toxic ghost from Brooklyn’s industrial past is being met not with an artisan makeover, but removal by National Grid. Cleanup of the empty lot at 50 Kent Avenue, which hosts Brooklyn Flea and various outdoor music shows, will start soon, according to a notice posted this month from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

    In addition to various music and culture fests, the lot has also been hosting soil contaminated by coal-tar. A designated state Superfund site owned by the Parks Department, the waterfront venue may be considered a mainstay of North Brooklyn culture, but from 1850 to 1930 it was home to the Williamsburg Works Manufactured Gas Plant, according to DNAinfo.

    50 Kent’s main environmental issue, coal tar, is often used as an ingredient to seal paving. It is also known to significantly elevate cancer risk.

    The cleanup could start later this fall. The Open Space Alliance, which manages the lot, told DNAinfo that, “The process will not begin until after summer activities on the lot end.”

    Cleanup action will consist of the excavation of two gas holder foundations and 25 feet of coal tar-contaminated soil as deep as feet below below ground surface, the notice said. There will also be coal tar recovery wells installed directly outside 50 Kent Avenue, as a way to collect tar beyond the properties boundaries.

    National Grid has been tasked with the excavation, with oversight by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

    For residents interested in learning more about the cleanup process, there will be a meeting at the Bushwick Inlet Headquarters on Kent Avenue and North 9th Street on Tuesday, September 29, at 6:30 p.m.

    So for all those nostalgic for New York’s days as a center of industry — it’s all around us, even if you can’t see it.

    Photo by Brooklyn Flea

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