Oil spill clean-up costs may fall on local co-op

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A Bay Terrace co-op could be forced to pay $500,000 or more for the costs of cleaning up an oil spill in Little Neck Bay that the U.S. Coast Guard and the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Friday came from the apartment’s sewer system.

First sighted on March 27, the oil spill flowed from the western edge of Little Neck Bay throughout the bay to Udall’s Cove, a wetlands preserve that sits on the eastern side of the bay between Douglaston, Little Neck and Great Neck.

The Coast Guard and the state DEC cited the Bay Terrace Co-op at 18-70 211th St. as the origin of the spill Friday.

Management of the Bay Terrace Co-op could not be reached for comment.

The Coast Guard said last week the cost of the cleanup so far was half a million dollars.

A spokeswoman for the state DEC said the agencies would seek reimbursement for the costs of cleaning up the oil.

“Both the state and federal government certainly has every intention of pursuing costs recovery for the money we spent on this,” she said.

The city Parks Department, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Coast Guard have been working together to clean bay, which the Coast Guard said was about 90 percent clean Friday.

The state DEC said Friday it discovered an oil-covered sewer outlet on the western side of Little Neck Bay during the investigation of the Little Neck Bay oil spill and traced the oil back through more than a mile of sewers to the Bay Terrace Co-ops.

The city Department of Environmental Protection joined the investigation after the detection of the sewer outlet and worked with the state and federal agencies to eventually uncover an unreported 2-1/2-foot heating oil spill in the sewer floor drain of one of the co-op’s buildings.

The oil spill in Little Neck Bay and Udall’s Cove was not connected to an oil spill that affected the north shore of Long Island earlier in March.

Udall’s Cove is a wetlands preserve on the eastern edge of Little Neck Bay that is bordered by Douglaston on its west side, Little Neck on the east, Great Neck, L.I. on the northeastern side, and Northern Boulevard in the south.

Sitting directly in the North Atlantic Flyway, which is the name of the migratory path of birds on their way to Canada, Udall’s Cove acts as an important breeding and feeding ground for several different types of birds.

While few dead birds have been reported so far as a result of the oil spill, the pollution was expected to erode the shoreline of Little Neck Bay, kill off mussels and other small organisms and reduce the wetlands’ ability to rejuvenate itself.

Workers from a Long Island company contracted by the Coast Guard to assist in the cleanup have been using special absorbent fabrics to clean rocks along the shoreline of Little Neck Bay and putting absorbent material into the water to soak up the oil. Special barriers were used to contain the spill and protect areas that had been cleaned.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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