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February 11, 2009

Congresswoman Velázquez Urges Brooklyn Residents to Collaborate with New York State Public Health Investigation

Washington, DC – In response to a request from Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has contacted New York State officials to ensure they are properly handling an investigation into chlorinated plumes found in Brooklyn.  As the state continues its works to determine the full extent of contamination in the Greenpoint and Williamsburg communities, Congresswoman Velázquez encouraged residents to participate in an indoor air testing study.   

“Safeguarding the health of families near the Meeker Avenue plume, and in the larger Newtown Creek area, must be a top priority.  I will continue to fight for the resources needed to clean-up these hazardous conditions,” Congresswoman Velázquez said.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Health (DOH) are conducting indoor air tests to ensure that dangerous chemicals in the soil have not seeped inside homes.  The contamination in the soil is the result of past activity by dry-cleaners and industrial companies.  If a certain amount of chlorinated vapors are found in a residence, the DEC will install a ventilation system at no cost to the family.  To encourage participation by impacted households, Congresswoman Velázquez and other local elected officials are sending a letter explaining the importance of home testing and the process residents should expect when dealing with the state agencies.  

“State health and environmental agencies are doing important work to make sure we all breathe safe, clean air in our homes.  All contacted residents should participate in the study to ensure the safety of their homes and to protect their families’ health,” Congresswoman Velázquez said. 

The U.S. EPA expressed confidence that New York is working to fully assess the impact of the plumes, and the federal agency offered its assistance if the state were to need it.  The letter also indicated that the EPA will continue its investigation into whether the larger Newtown Creek area warrants Superfund designation.  A copy of the EPA letter to Congresswoman Velázquez can be found here.