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 have entered into an Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent to complete a comprehensive study of Newtown Creek and its tributaries, called a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS). 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.

Remedial Investigation Completed Activities

The draft Remedial Investigation Report (RI Report) was submitted to EPA in November 2016 and presents the results of a rigorous investigation designed to characterize the Study Area and to assess potential risks to human health and the environment. The RI Report presents the results of the study and provides the foundation for evaluating remediation alternatives during the Feasibility Study.

Program Activities
Physical Surveys and Studies Hydrographic surveys; current meters; surface water elevations; shoreline surveys; Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and high-resolution aerial imagery; thermal infrared (TIR) imagery; Sedflume (erosion potential); groundwater seepage meters; field ebullition survey (FES)
Sediment Sampling and Studies Surface sediment; subsurface sediment; native material; NAPL; in-creek sediment traps; geochronology
Water Sampling General chemistry; water quality
Porewater Sampling Surface sediment general chemistry and quality; subsurface sediment (mid-point) general chemistry and quality
Groundwater Sampling General chemistry and quality in native deposits
Point Source Sampling General chemistry and quality of stormwater discharges; combined sewer outfalls, Newtown Creek WWTP overflow, effluent from groundwater remediation and dewatering systems, as well as Newtown Creek WWTP influent
Ecological Studies Habitat surveys; wildlife surveys; caged bivalves sampling; benthic community surveys and bioaccumulation testing; fish and crab surveys and sampling
Air Quality Sampling Ambient air sampling within and outside the Study Area
Reference Area Sampling Surface sediment samples were collected in 14 Phase 1 reference areas. USEPA selected the following four Phase 1 reference areas for Phase 2 sampling, which included surface sediment, surface water, and tissue:

Westchester Creek (industrial watershed, at least one major CSO discharges into the reference area)
Head of Bay (industrial, non-CSO)
Spring Creek (non-industrial, CSO)
Gerritsen Creek (non-industrial, non-CSO)

The Remedial Investigation sampling program contained the following components.

•  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 helps to focus investigative efforts in subsequent phases.  The Phase 1 site investigation field activities within Newtown Creek included the following:

  • Site surveys to characterize the creek shoreline, identify and document important shoreline features, obtain detailed aerial photographs 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 sediment
  • Air quality monitoring

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

  • 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?

  • EPA is currently reviewing the draft submittals of the RI Report, the Baseline Ecological Risk Assessment, and the Baseline Human Health Risk Assessment.
  • The Feasibility Study Field Program is planned for summer 2017 to support the development and analysis of remedial alternatives.
  • The draft Feasibility Study Report is scheduled to be submitted to EPA in 2019.

Site Status