EPA Issues Record of Decision Related to Combined Sewer Overflow Impacts on the Newtown Creek Superfund Site in New York City

News Releases from Region 02

04/12/2021

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NEW YORK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Record of Decision that evaluates impacts of the current and expected future volume of combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges to the Newtown Creek Superfund Site in New York City. Today’s Record of Decision, which applies to the volume of CSO discharges to Newtown Creek, lays out in detail why EPA has concluded that the city’s Long Term Control Plan to improve the water quality of Newtown Creek is anticipated to be consistent with meeting the needs of the Superfund program.

“EPA’s Record of Decision recognizes the significant reductions in CSO discharges to Newtown Creek that will result from implementation of the Long Term Control Plan, and we have concluded that further volume reductions are not required under the Superfund program,” said EPA acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan. “EPA will continue to closely monitor the site and will implement additional actions to address the impacts of CSO discharges on the creek if needed to fulfill the comprehensive cleanup of the site.”

The Newtown Creek Superfund Site Study Area is comprised of the water and sediment of Newtown Creek, which is located along the border of Brooklyn and Queens. Outside of the Superfund process, the city is under order by New York State to implement a CSO Long-Term Control Plan (LTCP) for Newtown Creek, as per the requirements of the Clean Water Act. The LTCP, which was approved by the state in 2018, includes several components such as construction of a CSO storage tunnel to reduce the volume of future CSO discharges to the creek by over 60%. 

EPA evaluated the LTCP in the context of the Superfund site to determine if the volume reductions anticipated under the LTCP are sufficient to meet the needs of the future Superfund cleanup of the Newtown Creek Superfund site. EPA has determined that the CSO volume controls prescribed by the LTCP that the City of New York is under order to implement are sufficient to meet the needs of an eventual Superfund cleanup of the Newtown Creek Superfund Site. EPA will require monitoring of the four major CSOs to confirm the assumptions made in reaching this conclusion remain valid.

EPA will determine in the future whether additional CSO-discharge related actions, either in the creek or in the uplands adjacent to the creek, are needed to address the cleanup of the full site.

EPA is also continuing to direct a very detailed investigation of the contamination in the creek and a study of the feasible options to address that contamination.  These studies are being conducted under EPA’s oversight by a consortium of parties that are potentially responsible for the contamination.  The studies are currently projected to be completed in 2023 and are expected to lead to a proposal by EPA of a cleanup plan for the entire creek.

On November 21, 2019, EPA released for public comment the proposed plan regarding this CSO discharge volume decision. During the public comment period, EPA held two public meetings to inform the public of EPA’s preferred remedial alternative and to receive public comments. The public meetings were held on December 9, 2019 in Queens and on December 11, 2019 in Brooklyn. Two requests for extension were granted, and the public comment period ended on February 28, 2020.

To read the EPA’s Record of Decision and to view EPA’s responses to public comments, please visit www.epa.gov/superfund/newtown-creek

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/eparegion2

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