Coastal Preservation Network President James Cervino has tested wastewater that would go into the Department of Environmental Protection’s planned stormwater outfall for MacNeil Park in College Point, and he isn’t happy with the results.
The scientist and others have said that the proposed outfall will damage a nearby habitat with oysters, seagrass and shrimp species that the preservation group has worked on for years.
Now, Cervino has found that zinc and lead levels in wastewater at two sites near the proposed outfall exceed the limit allowed by the DEP in its discharge parameters. The scientist said that the lead levels at two of the three sites he tested water from were found to be 4.29 and 5.34 micrograms per liter, going above the 2 ug/l agency limit. The same sites, MacNeil Park and College Place and 119th Street and 9th Avenue, showed zinc levels, respectively, of 8.75 and 10.8 ug/l; both amounts are north of the agency’s 5 ug/l limit for the substance.
He also said that after putting shrimp nauplii in a tank with the wastewater, they died. “Preliminary exposure results show that this water KILLS shrimp from my brief exposure analysis,” he said in an email.
The CPN president, who is also the Environmental Committee chairman of Community Board 7, also says that he has discovered that decomposed hydrocarbons were present in some of the wastewater he collected and plans on running tests to measure the exact level.
The stormwater outfall plan was first revealed last summer, and the DEP halted it after the state Department of Environmental Conservation opened a public-comment period on the project. Although the state agency has independently found that it does not believe the outfall will be harmful to the habitat, it is still reviewing the comments submitted with the city, according to spokeswoman Erica Ringewald.
The DEP did not immediately return a request for comment.
Cervino has said that the outfall should be extended farther away from the habitat, or the DEP should repair an unused stormwater pipe in the area that releases far enough from the CPN project to cause any harm.
Global Coral Reef Alliance President Thomas Goreau, an ecosystem restoration expert who has done work for the United Nations, has worked on the habitat with the CPN and has submitted testimony, urging that the outfall not go forth as originally planned.
“It will cause an intense source of freshwater, mud, and pollutant flow onto restored salt marshes that will cause severe erosion of the growing beach at the very point where kayaks enter the water,” he said in an emailed statement. “All of this could be avoided if they extended the pipe as far as the old damaged one already there at the site which needs to be replaced.”
Cervino plans on suing the DEP if it ends up going forward with the outfall as originally planned. However, he is optimistic that the DEC will urge the agency to change their plan.
“I’m confident that they will do the right thing,” he said.
Elected officials for College Point, such as Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), have also requested that the outfall be modified in response to the CPN’s suggestions.