Site Status

On this page you will find information on the current status of the Newtown Creek site, as well as an estimated timeline and milestones.

 

The EPA, the City of New York and the five companies (Phelps Dodge, Texaco, BP, National Grid and ExxonMobil) known as the Newtown Creek Group (NCG) have entered into an Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent (AOC) to complete a comprehensive study of the Newtown Creek and its tributaries, called a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study. The first step is the Remedial Investigation — an in-depth study designed to gather data needed to determine the nature and extent of contamination at a Superfund site — which is already underway.

Phase 1: Completed Activities

Phase 1 field activities began in November 2011 and were completed in March 2013. As part of these activities, sampling vessels and field crews were on the creek performing the planned water, sediment, and air sampling. During this extremely intensive effort, approximately 35,000 samples from about 300 stations, were sent to laboratories for chemical analyses. The Phase I data analysis began in April 2013. The results will be made available by EPA when complete.

The investigation and proposed cleanup for Superfund sites are guided by planning documents that identify the work that must be conducted at the site. For Newtown Creek, those planning documents included the following:

•  Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study Work Plan

•  Quality Assurance Project Plan

•  Health and Safety Plan

•  Field Sampling and Analysis Plan

•  Data Management Plan

•  Cultural Resources Survey Work Plan

•  Data Collection Plan

•  EPA's Community Involvement Plan (under development)

 

Typically, large complex sites such as Newtown Creek require multiple phases of site characterization work, where knowledge gained from the initial phase of work help to focus investigative efforts in subsequent phases.  The Phase 1 site investigation field activities within Newtown Creek included:

  • Site surveys to characterize the creek shoreline, identify and document important shoreline features, obtain detailed aerial photos of the site and its immediate surroundings, and obtain water depth and creek bed sediment information
  • Sediment sampling to characterize the physical and chemical properties of the creek sediments
  • Monthly water column sampling for chemical characterization
  • Sampling to understand the abundance and diversity of the biological community within the creek sediments
  • Air quality monitoring

Concurrent with the Phase 1 investigation field work are on-going efforts focused on interpreting the site data and developing computer models that will be used during the RI/FS process.  Other activities performed during this process include:

  • Compiling historical environmental data from in-creek locations and adjacent upland properties
  • Developing the approach for the ecological risk assessment – a critical component of the overall investigation that helps to determine cleanup levels for the site
  • Developing approaches to simulate and assess future changes in the creek under a variety of potential future conditions
  • Identifying appropriate reference areas that are helpful in assessing site conditions at Newtown Creek relative to those in the broader New York harbor area

What’s Next?

Results of the Phase 1 field sampling and other activities, as described above, are undergoing continued review and analysis to better understand what chemical compounds are present, where they are located, and at what concentrations. This information has also helped us understand the biological characteristics of the creek, including what types of aquatic species and wildlife utilize the creek. Although the Phase 1 has advanced our understanding of the physical and chemical conditions of the creek, additional information is needed to improve this understanding and help inform the evaluation of remedial options during the Feasibility Study. Currently a Phase 2 Work Plan is being developed to build upon the learnings from Phase 1, and will focus on collecting additional site data to characterize the sources of chemical compounds to the creek, quantify the risks to the biological community from these chemical compounds, and help identify methods to mitigate these source inputs and reduce risks at the site. This Phase 2 Work Plan will be submitted to EPA in early 2014. Once approved by EPA, preparation for these Phase 2 field activities, which are scheduled to begin in Spring 2014, will commence.

Site Status