GREENPOINT — A television shoot filled a Greenpoint block with nostalgia-inducing horses, buggies and an old-fashioned dirt road last week — and then the crew filled the sewers with illegal waste, neighbors said.
A shooting of "The Knick" television series, a show bringing viewers back to early 20th-century New York, turned Milton Street into a "river of mud" and then inundated the block's sewers, said neighbors who filed complaints with the city's Department of Environmental Protection.
"There was a rain scene which created a river of mud...and then there was the cleanup," said resident Rolf Carle, claiming that cleanup crews in trucks with street sweepers and high-pressure hoses worsened the chaos and sent waste into the block's catch basins.
And his neighbor Tom Naklicki said the whole cleanup had been "idiotic" because "the idea was to power wash the street but the water goes somewhere and that somewhere is the catch basins."
"There's a good chance it's going to clog the city sewer," Naklicki said of the water. "And if that happens, next time we have a rain the water will flood into people’s basements."
The production company did not immediately return requests for comment, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency any discharge into city sewers is illegal.
"An illicit discharge is defined as any discharge to the municipal separate storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of storm water," according to agency's website, with firefighting being an exception.
Carle and other residents — members of the Milton Street Block Association, who have a history of fighting the proliferation of film shoots in the neighborhood — said they also called the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment to request the city require the production company to present a clearer cleanup plan the next time it applies for a permit.
A spokeswoman for the agency did not comment on the specific cleanup concerns but said her office made sure the crews stopped working overnight to keep the peace for residents.
"Our office required the production to stop their work on Milton Street at night to ensure that residents were not affected by noise from the cleanup overnight," said the spokeswoman, Mary Ihle.
But Naklicki said the work went on until 1 a.m., and he emphasized that "this was not the first time" the city had allowed a crew to work late or to disturb the block.
"We just don't understand why the city would go to extremes to make our lives miserable," he said.
The Department of Environmental Protection did not return calls and emails requesting comment.