News > News > Rvk Aerial Patrols: Taking to the Sky to Protect New York’s Waters

Rvk Aerial Patrols: Taking to the Sky to Protect New York’s Waters

New York City Harbor

Photo Courtesy Giles Ashford
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Regular waterborne patrols of the Hudson River and its tributaries are at the core of Riverkeeper’s mission as New York’s leading clean water advocate. With vigilance and a watchful eye, Riverkeeper has been tracking down environmental law breakers and bringing polluters to justice for over 40 years. Several times each year, Riverkeeper’s boat presence is enhanced by aerial patrols, enabling our investigative team to gather evidence for important cases and campaigns; seeing behind walls and fences to view new evidence of illegal activity or subtle changes that are often undetectable from the water alone.

Riverkeeper took to the skies this past November for a helicopter patrol that spanned from New York City to Catskill in the mid-Hudson Valley. In Brooklyn, Riverkeeper’s team hovered over the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek, two of the most highly contaminated waterways in the country. The legacy of pollution was visible in the massive sheens of coal tar on the Gowanus and clear impacts from petroleum and combined sewer overflows on Newtown Creek. Scrap yards, cement plants, oil terminals, and other active industry were scrutinized for evidence of new pollution or continuing problems.

Flying over a dumpsite on the Harlem River, the rusted remains of a factory in Hastings, a rail yard in Croton, a quarry in Poughkeepsie, and two cement plants in Catskill, the Riverkeeper team checked on the remediation of historic pollution and looked for evidence of new discharges and unusual activity.

Earlier flights have found: a barge leaking oil into the Hudson near Newburgh, illegal discharges from a cement plant and quarry, bright yellow ponds of highly alkaline leachate flowing into the River, and evidence used to prosecute numerous other cases. Photos and other information gathered from the latest aerial patrol are being reviewed, and evidence will be used to support current investigations and future enforcement actions.

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