Stinky sludge cleaned from Flushing subway station

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Transit workers tackled a dirty job this week, cleaning up standing water and sludge that was causing a stink on the tracks of the No. 7 train at the Flushing Main Street station.

The mess, which had built up on a track near the entrance to the station closest to Union Street, probably came from a sink that had problems draining, said James Anyansi, a spokesman for New York City Transit.

"We believe this is stagnant water that comes from an employee facility slop sink," he said.

Over the weekend, workers unclogged the sink's drain, said New York City Transit spokeswoman Marissa Baldeo.

On Tuesday night, transit employees were scheduled to remove the standing water on the tracks, Baldeo said.

Several transit workers told Newsday that they believed the sludge was actually human waste and came from an employee bathroom that was leaking onto the tracks. But Anyansi disputed that claim.

"There is no sewage leak, not from our initial investigation, anyway," he said.

Located near the terminus of 15 bus routes and at the end of the No. 7 line, the Flushing Main Street station is the fourth busiest subway system in the city and the most frequented outside Manhattan. The station serves as a link for residents of northeast Queens to Midtown Manhattan.

Given the high use of the station, the news of the mess raised concern among public officials.

"One of the most dangerous things you can have is a sewer backup," said Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik (D-Flushing), who questioned whether the mess was a health hazard.

Anyansi, however, said the situation was "not at all" a danger to the public.

One transit worker, who did not want to give his name, said the mess had caught his nose's attention.

"Water that sits for awhile, it really starts smelling," he said.

Other transit workers, however, said they were unaware of any problem at the stop.

Some riders also said they noticed a foul smell at the station during the summer.

"It smells funny right now," said Lex Fauni Friday morning. "It's pretty bad right by the tracks."

Her friend, Kimberly Guinto, agreed.

"Today it smells even worse. They are fixing something," she said.

The two added that other stations also develop an odor during hot months.

Anyansi admitted the Flushing water and sludge was causing an odor problem.

"We do apologize to our customers who have had to bear this during this time," he said.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.

Posted 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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