Newtown Creek Report Ignores Health Concerns, Advocates Say

By Meredith Hoffman on May 11, 2012 4:26pm 

The creek, a 3.8 mile-long body of water, has been designated a superfund site by the EPA for its exceptional amount of pollution. Residents near the creek claim a recent DOH study does not address the health concerns for people living around the creek.
The creek, a 3.8 mile-long body of water, has been designated a superfund site by the EPA for its exceptional amount of pollution. Residents near the creek claim a recent DOH study does not address the health concerns for people living around the creek.
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Nathan Kensinger

GREENPOINT—Distressed residents claim the latest report on the effects of contaminants in Newtown Creek neglects key health concerns of those living nearby.

The Department of Health study includes information on fishing and boating in the creek — a body of water between Brooklyn and Queens designated by the EPA as a Superfund site for its high levels of contaminants after decades of oil spills and industrial neighbors — as well as future plans to track health concerns.

Community members will meet twice in the next two weeks to discuss the study, which they claim fails to address diseases that might be linked to the decades of contaminants in the creek, under the ground, and in the water.

"The state should be looking at the public health issues closer," said Laura Hoffmann, a board member on the Newtown Creek Alliance community group who has grown up by the creek in Greenpoint.

Hoffmann, who started a neighborhood petition demanding more extensive health data, noted that the DOH plans to use data from its cancer registry, but does not include other diseases in its planned research.

Several fatal diseases in her family would not be consdered using that reasearch protocol, Hoffman wrote in  a leter to the DOH.

"[They] will never cross paths on the same document and show a relationship between brain disease and the chemicals we've been exposed to," Hoffmann wrote in a letter to the DOH.

"We're looking for them to broaden their measures," said Mitch Waxman, who lives on the Queens side of Newtown Creek and also signed the petition.

Meetings on the assessment will be held Monday, 14 in Long Island City and Thursday, May 24 in Greenpoint. Details can be found on the Newtown Creek Alliance's website.

The Department of Health did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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