From: Elizabeth Hays, Daily News
Published March 2, 2005 12:00 AM

Pols are Pushing Cleanup of Creek

NEW YORK — Elected officials and environmental advocates are calling on Mayor Bloomberg to clean up toxic Newtown Creek -- whether the city wins the 2012 Olympics or not.


City Councilmen David Yassky (D-Brooklyn) and Eric Gioia (D-Queens) fired off a letter yesterday demanding a full-scale plan to clean up the industrialized waterway, which is just steps from the city's planned Olympic Village.


"The creek is like a witch's cauldron of raw sewage and petroleum products," reads the letter to Bloomberg, which was signed by eight Brooklyn and Queens groups. "These cesspool conditions raise serious human health and aesthetic concerns which must be addressed."


The letter comes after organizers for the city's Olympic bid, NYC2012, last week assured that cleaning up the long-polluted waterway would become a major priority if the city is chosen to host the games.


But the critics charged that the stagnant creek, between Brooklyn and Queens, poses an environmental nightmare that must be addressed quickly regardless of whether the site is slated to be redeveloped for the Olympics.


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"Newtown Creek is possibly the biggest ongoing environmental disaster in New York City, and the government isn't doing anything to clean it up," Yassky said. "The position that we'll clean it up if we get the Olympics is completely unacceptable."


The letter also was signed by the environmental group Riverkeeper, which, together with Yassky and Gioia, is suing ExxonMobil over a decades-old, 17-million-gallon oil spill lurking beneath Greenpoint on the banks of the creek.


A Bloomberg administration spokeswoman said officials are reviewing the letter.


The city's proposed Olympic plan calls for building an Olympic Village near the banks of the creek in Queens. An aquatic center is planned nearby on the Brooklyn waterfront.


They also want the city to come up with a way to cut down on sewage spewed into the creek as well as a plan to dredge the creek and restore its wetland ecosystem.


Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News


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