News > News > Stop Polluters > Pollution Enforcement > Vice Chair Crowley, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Announce Removal of Abandoned Barges in Flushing Bay

Vice Chair Crowley, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Announce Removal of Abandoned Barges in Flushing Bay

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For Immediate Release

Originally posted by Office of Congressman Joseph Crowley

Queens, NY – On Monday, May 23, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, was joined by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Flushing Bay advocates at a press conference at the World’s Fair Marina to announce the removal of abandoned barges that for too long have contaminated the waterway and posed a safety hazard for vessels navigating the channel in Flushing Bay.

“Flushing Bay continues to be a critical waterway for New York City as both a commercial tract and a recreational outlet,” said Rep. Crowley. “While these abandoned barges have been an ongoing challenge for the bay, I want to thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and in particular Col. David Caldwell, for his commitment to getting this very important project underway. Not only were the barges an eyesore for our community, but more importantly they were polluting our waters and jeopardizing the safety of the people who use it. The removal of these barges is major victory for our community and it would not have been possible without the advocacy of organizations like Riverkeeper, Guardians of Flushing Bay, Friends of Flushing Creek and the Dragon Boat community who all ensured the health of our waterway remained a top priority.”

In December, Crowley demanded action from the USACE in removing the barges, and called for an investigation to identify the bad actors responsible for abandoning the barges in the first place.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pleased to announce the start of the removal of the derelict barges from Flushing Bay,” said Col. David Caldwell, the Army Corps’ New York District commander. “The barges are a navigational hazard for the Federal Navigation Channel as well as an environmental and visual concern for the surrounding communities and we’re happy that the Corps can address all three issues with one action.”

Over the last few months, the barges drifted around the bay and continued to decay, releasing blocks of Styrofoam and other materials into the water polluting not just the bay itself, but the nearby shores.

“For a year and a half, these barges have been an ever-present reminder to the Flushing Bay community that their waterway was being used as a dump,” said Paul Gallay, President of Riverkeeper. “For too long this community endured a constant source of contamination and a hazard to navigation. Now, because of the tireless work of the dragon boat community of Flushing Bay, the community advocates of Flushing Creek, Riverkeeper, and the leadership of Congressman Crowley, we are proud to stand by as witnesses to the remediation of our waters and removal of these barges.”

“Flushing Bay has been neglected for too long with ongoing sewage overflows and for the past year and a half with these derelict barges, a source of pollution and an eyesore for the community,” said Korin Tangtrakul of Guardians of Flushing Bay, a volunteer-run organization that advocates for a clean and healthy Flushing Bay. “We’re thankful for the Congressman’s efforts, and that the Army Corps is finally acting to remove the barges and create a safer, cleaner Flushing Bay that will be enjoyed and appreciated by boaters, residents and visitors alike.”

Prior to beginning work on the removal, the USACE conducted an extensive search to determine the perpetrators. However, the owner(s) could not be identified and the USACE subsequently were able to secure approval for the work.

The work is being performed only at night when LaGuardia Airport’s operations are reduced so that the equipment being used to lift the barges out of the water is not a hazard for aircraft using the airport. The removal is due to be fully completed in the coming days.

The overall cost of securing and removing the barges is currently estimated between $850,000 and $1,100,000, to be determined by the effort involved.

Congressman Crowley is the nine-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.

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