Blogs > Boat Blog > 2 derelict barges pose hazard in Flushing Bay – Who will step up?

2 derelict barges pose hazard in Flushing Bay – Who will step up?

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Riverkeeper and two citizen groups, the Guardians of Flushing Bay and the Empire Dragon Boat Team, are demanding the removal of two abandoned, derelict barges that are polluting Flushing Bay with Styrofoam and other contaminants and posing an imminent hazard to commercial and recreational vessels.

Numerous authorities (NYPD, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York Department of Environmental Conservation) were first alerted in January and February 2015, but the barges and Styrofoam waste have not been removed. If these two barges had gone aground right next to Battery Park in January, you can bet some authority would have figured out how to remove them by now.

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Flushing Bay is not a dumping ground. Who will step up??

The barges apparently drifted here after a wind storm in January from a location on the eastern shore of Flushing Bay.

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Styrofoam began falling off the barges and spreading around the Bay. The debris has landed on public and private property all along the shore. The barges have giant foam blocks on deck AND contain massive amounts of additional foam in their hulls as positive flotation.

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A tug company appealed for action because the barges interfered with operations at the NYC Marine Transfer Station. Earlier this year one of the barges broke in half and the Army Corps of Engineers responded to anchor it – but it dragged anchor and moved again the very next day. Months go by and the two wrecks – one consisting of a broken half-barge, the other with the other half and an additional barge – remain in the bay. They continue leaking their contents. They are NOT secured. They endanger vessels including tugs, commercial passenger vessels and avid recreational boaters such as the dragon boat teams.

The public is taking back Flushing Bay and doing its part to clean up the water body and its shoreline. The community and Riverkeeper will not accept that these barges could be left to rot and shed Styrofoam indefinitely. Flushing Bay has a voice now. We’re not going to let it be used as a dump anymore.

Riverkeeper and our two local partners have so far alerted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, NOAA Marine Debris Program, New York City Council (and staff), New York State Assembly (and staff), New York State Senate and Flushing Bay advocates and boaters. How can it be that none of these government agencies and services can manage to deal with these hazards which seem to fall well within their jurisdictional responsibility to protect the environment and the public?

Read our June 28 letter to the EPA, DEC, Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers.

Read our Aug. 27 updated letter to these and additional recipients.

And stay tuned.

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