‘Partially Treated’ Waste Continues Pouring Into New York Harbor After Sandy

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Photo: Julio Cortez/Corbis

A water treatment plant in New Jersey has released more than three billion gallons of "partially treated wastewater" into the New York Harbor since being damaged by a twelve-foot storm surge from Hurricane Sandy, the Associated Press reports. The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission in Newark continues to pump in more than 200 million gallons of dirty-ish water per day, and there's no telling when it will be fixed. "We've never had the facility flood like this," said executive director Mike DeFrancisci, who expects repairs to be completed "ASAP."

The water is being treated with chlorine, which kills some of the bad stuff, but then there's the industrial extras. "Human waste is hazardous to public health if you get exposed to it, but it's the hidden stuff that's mixed in with the sewage that normally gets pulled out at the treatment plant that isn't getting pulled out," said Hackensack Riverkeeper Bill Sheehan. "If it was just household sewers it would be one thing, but we have to worry about all the other stuff."

Still, the Department of Environmental Protection urges everyone to remain calm. "It's not like an industrial plant that is dumping dioxins in the river that don't go away," said a spokesman. "These are materials that, while they aren't nice to see or smell, will eventually break down and dissipate." Something to look forward to!