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Queens Chronicle

Filthy sludge dump caught on video

Parks Department has been using parkland to dispose of its waste

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 1:11 pm, Thu Sep 12, 2019.

Red-faced city Parks Department officials had to explain this week why it let its own workers dump a truckload of smelly slime and garbage in Forest Park.

Last Thursday, passers-by noticed tank trucks spewing liquid waste — loaded with bottles, cans and other garbage — on the ground in a little-used section of the park in Glendale.

The waste, said a spokeswoman for the department, was the sediment collected from sewer catch basins and spray shower drains.

Parks workers had been using rented trucks to remove the junk that clogs the drains and causes back-up flooding, she said.

“This was not hazardous waste,” the spokeswoman said.

Still, witnesses said the black stuff that came off the truck gave off a strong ordor, witnesses told WCBS/Ch. 2 news, which first reported the dumping story Thursday night. And it wasn’t just dirt that was dumped but all kinds of trash and recyclable material.

The spot where the sludge was dumped is a section of the park that is slated to become a new entrance to the park from Myrtle Avenue near Union Turnpike.

The area is “not currently in use,” said the spokeswoman.

Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village), whose district covers Glendale, was one of the first on the site after videos of the dumping, uploaded by local resident Frank Schorn, began to circulate on social media.

“To hear that Parks Department is actually dumping in one of its own parks ... disbelief,” he told Ch. 2.

“It’s embarrassing. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

By the next day, nearly all traces of the mess has been cleaned up and a paved section of the ground hosed down.

The debris was hauled to a landfill operated by the Tully Group, a private, solid-waste disposal company that, among other sites, administers the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island and a transfer station in Willets Point.

Apparently, the practice of dumping nontoxic waste, at least temporarily, in unused sections of Forest Park is not isolated.

After unloading the sludge on a paved area of the park, “cleanup with mechanical equipment is much more effective,” the spokeswoman said in an email, indicating that the contents of the trucks are dumped for a short while with the intention of cleaning it up later.

She declined to answer if the department engages in similar practices in other parks.

Forest Park is the third largest in Queens — after Flushing Meadows Corona and Cunningham parks.

Because the 500-plus acre park is substantially woods, it is a favorite of hikers and nature lovers, more so than familiesswho use the city parks for sports, playgrounds and picnics.

But the secluded nature of large areas of the park has made it a magnet for all sorts of clandestine behavior.

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