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Brooklynites Beware – You Could Be Living on a Toxic Waste Dump

If you live in North Brooklyn, you might want to listen up.

By James L. Knobloch August 5, 2016
Photo courtesy of Fritz Hoffman / REDUX

Sure, your breaker trips every time you try to use the microwave and your hair dryer simultaneously, but at least your apartment building isn’t sitting on top of a literal toxic dump, right?

If you live in North Brooklyn, you might want to listen up.

Related: Brooklyn Is Running Out Of Room As More Flock To It Every Day

Community organization, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) recently released a rather disturbing map. Forget maps of subway dead zones or most desirable (read: expensive) neighborhoods—this is your one-stop apocalypse map, outlining charming local favorites like flood risk zones, waste transfer facilities, and the always popular “polluted sites.”

“People need to understand where they live and how to protect themselves,” said NAG environmental organizer Allison Currier. “The real estate market and the real estate developers, they’re not going to tell people, ‘Oh you’re living on a toxic site.’ They’re not going to tell people about that because they want people to buy the real estate. “

Born in Brooklyn, NAG’s mission is to “recapture its waterfront, reduce local environmental hazards, and advocate for public policies promoting healthy mixed-use communities” and “…advocate with and for the people who live and work in the North Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg.” By releasing the map, NAG organizers are hopeful that they can bring attention to the neighborhoods’ environmental issues among New Yorkers.

Pulling data from the likes of the Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the map layers environmental data—monitored historic pollution sites, for example—with health and urban statistics like population density and asthma rates to paint a very informative (if depressing) picture.

One of the likely culprits for the area’s new status as a radiation-induced super hero breeding ground is its history. Long before gentrification pioneer hipsters were getting priced out of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, factories, refineries and power plants once stood where juice bars and artisanal beard oil apothecaries do now. Some of today’s trendiest, up-and-coming neighborhoods sit on former industrial zones that seeped hazardous waste and pollutants into the ground for years.

One such example is the NuHart Plastics Superfund site—a former vinyl plastics plant—that has polluted the surrounding soil, groundwater, and air for years. What’s more alarming than the estimated 40,000-60,000 gallons of toxic waste and chemicals sitting beneath it? How about the fact that it’s right across the street from a playground…and a proposed new school?

So while “luxury loft apartments in historic converted Greenpoint warehouse” might sound great in theory, it’s always prudent to look before you leap.

James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

A creative professional with a sharp tongue and a big smile, taking on city living one slightly-veiled sarcastic comment at a time. Born and raised just outside of New Orleans, James is a living testament to his own mantra, “Southern hospitality is a privilege, not a right,” giving his work a unique, dry humor meets charm perspective.

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