This Week in Sludgeby on
The start date for dredging has been continually slipping since the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee (NCMC) last reported it would start in October 2013 (in itself a delay from the originally scheduled start of June 2013). This time the problem is related to disposal of the dredge materials. DEP’s contractor had originally made arrangements with several disposal facilities to accept the dredge materials. NYSDEC, upon review of the facilities determined that because Newtown Creek is on EPA’s list of Superfund sites, disposal facilities need a specific EPA certification to accept the dredge materials. Two of the three facilities selected by the contractor had the necessary certification but those facilities could only accept a portion
of the dredge materials. A third facility, which had been designated to accept the bulk of the dredge spoils, did not have the necessary EPA certification. Now the contractor is trying to locate other facilities with the proper certification. If such facilities can be found quickly, dredging may begin in the Spring of 2014. Otherwise, dredging could be delayed until October 2014, after the Summer 2014 dredge moratorium (a moratorium on dredging put in place to prevent disturbances to spawning fish).
Delays in dredging could in turn impact the timing of the demolition of the East River Sludge Storage Tank and the subsequent construction of affordable housing. Whale Creek and Newtown Creek must be dredged to allow the new barges to reach the new Whale Creek dock. If the new barges cannot reach the dock, then DEP will have to continue to use the existing barges to collect sludge from the East River Sludge Storage Tank, which would in turn, delay its demolition.
SHIPYARD IS SLACKING ON SLUDGE BARGES
In the last newsletter, we reported that three, new, low-‐profile sludge barges were being built by Bollinger Shipyards, Inc. in Louisiana. The original delivery date for the first vessel was January 2013, which then slipped to July 2013 and is now January 2014. Since the first vessel is currently in the water on its way to New York City (see http://www.vesselfinder.com/?imo=9648049 for the latest update), this delivery date seems likely to hold. The second sludge barge is scheduled to arrive in late April 2014.
The delivery dates for the barges have slipped sufficiently that the delays are starting to impact other activities associated with the Upgrade project. DEP needs two barges at the plant in order to complete construction of the new Whale Creek sludge dock. Once the second barge arrives, a month “shakeout period” is needed with both vessels to make sure the new dock is operational. Right now, the earliest this shakeout could be finished and the dock considered complete is May 2014. Once this happens, the NCWWTP can begin piping sludge directly to the barges, which would eliminate the need for the East River Sludge Storage Tank and allow demolition to start. Any delay in the delivery of the second barge will delay the demolition of the sludge storage tank.
WILL THE SLUDGE STORAGE TANK EVER BE DEMOLISHED?
As explained above, the delays in both dredging and in the delivery of the sludge barges are affecting the schedule for demolition of the East River Sludge Storage Tank. Greenpoint has been waiting a long time to see this tank demolished with initial commitments for demolition in 2010. The three to five month demolition process is now scheduled to start in May 2014 with completion sometime between September and October 2014. With the ULURP action for the Greenpoint Landing approved, demolition of the sludge tank is now critical. In accordance with an agreement made by the City, the Greenpoint Landing development will include affordable housing and open space on Eagle and West Streets. The proposed location is adjacent to the sludge storage tank property and given the space constrictions, it would be difficult for the projects to happen concurrently.