GREENPOINT—The city's largest sewage plant can now take in even more waste.
The upgrade of all of Newtown Creek's waste-treatment tanks is now complete, with the final of its three batteries now functioning, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland announced Tuesday.
The DEP has been working since 2000 on the $5 billion project to improve the plant's efficiency, boosting its cleaning capacity from 620 million to 700 million gallons of water on rainy days.
The first of the three upgraded batteries became operational in 2007, while the south battery — the most recently improved — began operating on February 16.
The three improved batteries now have improved grit, sedimentation and aeration tanks, and purge more than 99.9 percent of pathogenic organisms from the water before it is dumped into the river, DEP spokesman Corey Chambliss said.
The Newtown Creek Waste Treatment Plant, which purges storm and wastewater of their toxins and then empties clean water into the East River at India Street, has been operating since the 1960s and serves about 1 million residents in a 15,000-acre drainage area. The tanks clean up to 310 million gallons of water on days without rain.
"DEP's milestone is certainly something to be proud of," said Laura Hoffmann, of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee, which addresses environmental concerns related to all of Newtown Creek and its long history of pollution.
The full upgrade, involving about $550 million in design, support and construction improvements, is projected to be complete by 2014.