Assembly Member William Colton (D, WFP, 47th Assembly District – Brooklyn), outraged at her handling of dredging operations polluting Gravesend Bay, is calling for the removal of Venetia Lannon from all decision-making regarding the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Waste Transfer Station.
Ms. Venetia Lannon currently serves as the Regional Director for the Office of Region 2 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). DEC Region 2 services the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.
Assembly Member Colton is calling for Ms. Lannon’s removal from all decision-making regarding the Gravesend Bay garbage station following the events, which occurred this past November and December. On November 12, 2015 at approximately 4:40 pm, Assembly Member Colton’s Neighborhood Watch witnessed the polluting of Gravesend Bay by the dredging performed at the marine waste transfer station site, located at Shore Parkway and Bay 41st Street. This was one of the first days that dredging was performed at the site. The dredging is being conducted as part of the construction of the waste transfer station, on the site of a former incinerator, which the NYC Department of Sanitation operated from 1959 to 1989, without ever obtaining a legally required permit.
On November 12th, the dredging resulted in the spilling of the dredged material shown in a video posted on You Tube.
Sediment sampling has shown the bottom of Gravesend Bay has been contaminated with Class C acutely toxic levels of dioxins, lead, mercury, chlordanes, and Mirex (an ant killer insecticide banned by the EPA in 1976). Since prior studies have revealed that the sediment being dredged is contaminated, there were strict permit conditions and requirements as to how the dredging must be conducted. It is the violation of these requirements which resulted in the shocking pollution of the waters shown by the video, which is now available for viewing at: https:
Although, following this November 12th incident, dredging initially was halted, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, instead of investigating what caused the mishap and what needed to be done to prevent its re-occurrence, instead within days modified the dredging permit. The original permit only allowed dredging to be conducted at the site until November 15, 2015. However, the modified permit extended the window of dredging one month until December 15, 2015. The modified permit allowed dredging to be performed at the Gravesend Bay garbage station site during fish spawning season. During the spawning season, fish are more susceptible to being harmed or killed by dredging, making the fish population in Gravesend Bay more vulnerable as the dredging window was extended to December 15th.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), under the direction of Ms. Lannon, reasoned that the weather was warm enough to extend the dredging window one month. However, the Department of Environmental Conservation made this decision without any scientific evidence or without conducting any scientific study that would show that the fish population of Gravesend Bay would not be negatively affected by the dredging extension.
The modified permit provided by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) also allowed for the utilization of an ordinary, old-style clam bucket at the construction site along Gravesend Bay. This ordinary, old-style clam bucket, which is used for dredging the sediment at the bottom of the waters, is less environmentally-sound as the newer, modified clam-bucket that was being originally used at the construction site. However, in violation of the construction dredging report, the newer-style clam bucket, which was initially promised for use at the site, was not fitted with an open close sensor, as required. The failure of fitting the original, new style clam-bucket with a sensor led to the polluting of Gravesend Bay during the dredging in November 2015 when the operator lifted it from the water when the bucket was not properly closed with the resulting dumping of the dredged load into the waters. However, the Department of Environmental Conservation failed to provide any evidence that the usage of the traditional-style clam bucket at the site would prevent the further polluting of Gravesend Bay. In fact, Assembly Member Colton’s Neighborhood Watch discovered and documented with additional You Tube posted videos, that the usage of the traditional-style clam-bucket upon the resumption of dredging, also resulted in new incidents of the pollution of Gravesend Bay.
Ms. Venetia Lannon, prior to serving as the Regional Director for Region 2 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), served as the Senior Vice-President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), where she led the Maritime Group. In her previous position at the City’s EDC, Ms. Lannon played a vital role in the creation and development of the New York City Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP), including the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Waste Transfer Station proposal. Now, as the Regional Director for Region 2 of DEC, Ms. Lannon oversees the construction and dredging activities at the Gravesend Bay garbage station, playing an important role in the decision-making process regarding the site of this garbage station plan.
Assembly Member William Colton asserted, “I am calling on removing Ms. Venetia Lannon from all decisions regarding the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Waste Transfer Station. It is clear that due to her previous role in the New York City Economic Development Corporation, in which Ms. Lannon oversaw and developed the City’s Solid Waste Management Plan, including the proposal for the Gravesend Bay garbage station, that Ms. Lannon now has a bias towards this fast tracking of the implementation of this plan. Region 2 of the Department of Environmental Conservation, under the direction of Ms. Lannon has failed to provide any scientific evidence that extending the dredging window into the fish spawning season would not harm the fish population of Gravesend Bay and greater New York Harbor. In fact, the extension of the dredging window until December 15th, which is one month into the fish-spawning season, sets a dangerous precedent for future dredging in not only Gravesend Bay, but also all of New York Harbor. Further, the construction company has failed to explain why they started dredging so late into the original window, which was from July 15th to November 15th and why they proceeded with the dredging without properly equipping the dredging bucket with the promised open close senor. Yet Region 2, instead of acting to investigate why the contractor so proceeded instead rewarded the construction company by extending the dredging window well into the fish spawning season and allowing it to use a digging bucket without the environmental safeguards promised?”
Colton continued, “Further, the allowing of the utilization of the old-style, traditional clam-bucket for dredging only leads to additional concerns. The construction company has continuously violated the construction permit for the site, such as by allowing the pooling of storm water throughout and past the construction site. This pooling occurred as a result of the failure of the construction company to place and arrange the appropriate barriers and netting, as required by the permit. Considering that the constriction company has continually violated the permit, which we have thoroughly documented, there is no valid reason for DEC to have allowed them to dredge into the fish spawning season, or to allow them to use the less environmentally-sound, traditional-style clam bucket. Hence, I am calling for Ms. Lannon, who clearly has a bias towards fast tracking this project instead of fulfilling the DEC mission to protect the environment, to be removed from the decision-making process for all future judgments that will be made regarding the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Waste Transfer Station.”