Blogs > Boat Blog > Bizarre discovery in Newtown Creek: 216 plastic bags with black, semi-gelatinous sediment

Bizarre discovery in Newtown Creek: 216 plastic bags with black, semi-gelatinous sediment

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During our inbound patrol on Newtown Creek this morning we came upon many small plastic bags floating in a tight cluster between Empire Transit Mix and the mouth of Maspeth Creek. We spent about a half hour picking them up using the boat hook and dip net – 216 total.

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The tide was high. During the period that we were collecting bags the cluster drifted north. When we first arrived they were closer to the west / Empire Transit Mix side, but by the time we finished they had spread out and almost reached the mouth of Maspeth Creek.

The bags had a trace of a black semi-gelatinous sediment inside. The residue did not have any odor or produce any sheen. The side of the boat over which the bags were retrieved is not oily and only had traces of the fine sediment.

We called DEC, which dispatched a spill response engineer to meet us. The engineer took the bags for possible analysis of the sediment and hazmat disposal.

You have to wonder whether someone went to an extraordinary amount of trouble to bag some waste product which could not be disposed of by normal means. Clearly there may have been bags which sank – we only retrieved the ones from which the sediment fell out – which allowed the bags to float with small air pockets. Perhaps many bags were used to facilitate transport.

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