Four Brooklyn business owners came under fire by that borough’s district attorney’s office last week for allegedly dumping raw sewage into Jamaica Bay.
Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes charged the owners, two of whom work for major chains, Dec. 8 with prohibited discharges and failing to have permits for proper sewage systems felonies. The stores, a TGI Friday’s, a Regal Cinemas movie theater, a bagel store and a marina, illegally set up their sewage pipes to spew into Shell Bank Creek, which ultimately flows into the bay, Hynes said.
“There is no excuse for the disgraceful pollution of our waterways and beaches,” he said in a statement.
The investigation into the businesses, which was conducted by the DA’s Environmental Crimes Unit, city Department of Environmental Protection and state Department of Environmental Conservation, started in 2009 when residents complained about sewage, grease, toilet paper and other garbage in Shell Bank Creek, the DA said.
“What is alleged to have occurred shows a total disregard for the environment and public health,” DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz said in a statement.
The area around the Brooklyn ecosystem is not served by the city’s sewage system and businesses are mandated to provide their own wastewater lines that feed into a treatment facility in Brooklyn. Seven years ago, the DEP served multiple notices on the movie theater’s manager, Craig Novoa, for having leaks in his sewer lines, but he never fixed them, according to Hynes.
Investigators traced the sewage to the movie theater by using a special dye in the water, the DA said. The probe also found nearby stores Knapp Street Bagel, which is managed by Simon Shin; Deauville Marina, which is managed by David Matalon; and a TGI Friday’s, owned by Alex Spivak, were also allegedly dumping their sewage into the bank, according to Hynes.
The DEP commissioner said his office would continue to monitor the creek for any future illegal dumping.
“Today’s arrests send a strong message to property owners who would turn a blind eye to water pollution or delay fixing a problem: take responsibility and act now,” he said in a statement.
Pollution of Jamaica Bay has led to the decay of its saltwater marshland over the years. The city has been working on reducing the amount of nitrogen in the ecosystem, since that is the chemical element that has been causing the marshland loss.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@c
©2010 Community News Group
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