Image source: DNAinfo
We were thinking about Newtown Creek and decided to see if there was any news regarding how it was affected during Hurricane Sandy. Turns out the EPA did go in and test the area (.pdf) right after Hurricane Sandy. Knowing that Newtown Creek is a Superfund site and all, it is not surprising to learn that there were chemicals and bacteria in it, though it is interesting to see the breakdown of pollutants. Here are their findings from November 9 from the basement of a building on Eagle Street that flooded with Newtown Creek water:
Samples of flood water from the building basement and the creek were analyzed for bacteria and 139 different chemicals within the following categories: metals, volatile organic compounds, petroleum related compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds.
Levels of bacteria were high. While this type of bacteria becomes inactive over time, these findings reinforce the need for people to protect themselves when cleaning up flood waters that contain sewage and therefore contain bacteria. Fact sheets detailing the precautions people should take when cleaning flood waters can be found at http://www.epa.gov/sandy/.
The remaining four categories of pollutants were compared to health based values of drinking water quality. Chemicals that were tested were below levels of concern or not detected.
Low levels of gasoline and diesel derivatives were found, consistent with road run-off which often contains traces of fuel.
Semi-volatile organic compounds were found at very low levels or not detected. No volatile organic compounds were detected. Heavy metals were found at very low levels or not detected.
For the most part, Newtown Creek itself has more of the metals, chemicals, etc in it than the basement water tested, though the creek had less aluminum, calcium, iron, manganese, potassium, and zinc.
Full results can be found in this downloadable spreadsheet from the EPA.