Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

"A Localized Plume" at the Roebling Oil Field

September 18th, 2007 · 2 Comments

There’s a “localized plume” of oil at the Roebling Oil Field, according to a Department of Environmental Conservation official. The description is in an email that was sent yesterday after our post on new test wells being drilled on N. 11th Street in Williamsburg to several Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents as well as a variety of elected officials by Randall W. Austin, the local Chief of DEC’s Spill Prevention and Response Programs. The email was forwarded to GL by a reader.

The email was in response to a question about whether the contamination at the Roebling Oil Field and the Greenpoint Oil Spill might be related. It notes–quite accurately, we believe–that the Roebling Oil Field oil is not from the Exxon-Mobil spill in Greenpoint as some have speculated. It is believed to originate from localized contamination.

Here is the email from Mr. Austin:

The soil borings and groundwater wells that both the NYSDEC and Mr. Schwartz have installed along North 11th Street and Roebling Street (including ones the State just installed this past week) continue to show a localized plume adjacent to Mr. Schwartz’s property. [IE, the site we call the Roebling Oil Field.] Wells that have been installed to the east and north of where the oil was found emanating into the development’s excavation have not shown any product. If the oil was in fact channeling via a buried streambed from the ExxonMobil plume, it would undoubtedly intersect (and be entrained by) the countless building basements and subsurface utilities that lie between eastern Greenpoint and the Northside neighborhood, approximately a mile apart from each other. Furthermore, if this was truly a stream of oil, it would be readily recoverable in significant quantities. Such is not the case. The clays and silts located sub-surface underneath North 11th Street (which yes, can be from an old stream bed) seem to be both helping and hindering the flow of this oil. It therefore becomes difficult to investigate and capture said oil by placing wells in the ground.

The investigation continues in this matter. It is further constrained by the presence of a large gas main underneath North 11th Street, which makes drilling a limited operation. We have been having discussions with KeySpan about what we can do around their line to investigate and capture the oil contamination (hand digging with KeySpan supervison appears to be the only safe option).

Believe me when I say that no one wants to get to the bottom of what is going on here more than I do. I have my best geologist working on this matter with the remedial project manager, and we hope to define, contain, and remove this black oil plume from this location.

To be continued.

Related Post:
New Test Wells Drilled at Roebling Oil Field, Source of Oil Still Unknown

Tags: Roebling Oil Field · Williamsburg

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anonymous // Sep 20, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Localized my ass!! The DEC have been crawling all over Williamsburg the last couple months – drilling and testing all over—-at odd hours too—think they are scared, certainly to late—NOW what do they do when they truth about a toxic health crisis here happens?

    The residents who have moved here in last 5 years are the first decent number to have health insurance and go to MDs regularly and have their data tractable!! The old residents of when Williamsburg was poor/working class and didn’t have any or proper health care were in essence off the grid..their data fell through thr cracks so the health issues here in Williamsburg are far underestimated…WHAT will the DEC do when the young yuppie kids of Upper income parents start coming down with cancers and other illness related to the toxic enviroment and lands and condos they bought here? Then what?


    The fact is, asking prices are down already in Williamsburg. Local broker David Maundrell says the area is off as much as 10 percent, though he’s quick to add that it looks like it’s stabilized. The culprit appears to be the huge amount of new construction (and reconstruction). According to the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University, the Department of Buildings issued 559 new certificates of occupancy here in 2005—more than five times as many as in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens combined. That said, some ’Burghers have a lot more to worry about than others. “Everything good that Williamsburg is known for, it’s on the north side,” says Maundrell. South of North 1st Street, things get far dicier, especially in smaller condo projects (eight units and below) with “rental-quality” finishes. They don’t offer much in the way of amenities, turning off high-end buyers. They also attract plenty of first-timers—creative types, often freelance workers, who have availed themselves of “exotic” mortgages that didn’t require much documentation. (At least 30 percent of Maundrell’s local clients fill the bill, he admits.) Those “no-doc loans” are harder to come by now, so if these folks can’t spring for those apartments anymore, who will? Greenpoint may see a related decline in property values, because its market catches the Williamsburg overflow. If those T-shirt designers and bloggers can suddenly afford their first choices, closer to the all-holy Bedford Avenue stop on the L, they’ll abandon Greenpoint in a Brooklyn minute.

  • 2 Quicklink: Warehouse 11 To Go Chapter 11? | newyorkshitty.com // Feb 12, 2010 at 2:02 am

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