“Flushing Bay has historically been and continues to be a critically important waterway for New York,” said Crowley. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to recognize the urgency of this matter and act immediately to remove these derelict barges from our bay.”
Crowley pointed to a number of issues that could arise from having the barges, which he said he’s seen from land, from sea and from air, floating in the bay.
“There’s barges are not just an eyesore,” Crowley said. “They are contaminating our waters, imposing an immediate safety hazard to vessels that operate through the federal navigation channels. They are in precarious positions and only a powerful storm away from further jeopardizing the bay, if they were to fracture into more pieces, and obstruct the navigational channel further.”
Environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper first called attention to the problem approximately 11 months ago. They’ve been fighting to get the barges removed and are now joined by the congressman and a number of other elected officials.
“It’s the old story,” Paul Gallay said. “It apparently takes a village to get these barges out of Flushing Bay. We are looking at pollution, threats to navigation, interference with the dragon boat teams and the other recreation.”
Dragon boat teams use Flushing Bay for recreational purposes, and have moved from just focusing on athletics to becoming advocates for the city waterways.
“Flushing Bay is our home,” said Randy Ng, DCH Dragon Boating Team coach and member of Guardians of Flushing Bay. “The waste that comes from these barges affects over 200 high school students who use [the bay]. It also is a health threat to a Breast Cancer Survivor dragon boat group whose program is to support each other through a traumatic life experience.”
In addition for calling for the removal of the barges, Crowley also called for a federal investigation into finding the bad actors responsible for abandoning the derelict barges.
“We demand accountability from those who think that it is okay to leave their junk behind,” Crowley said. “It simply is not okay. That’s why I’m calling for a swift federal investigation.”
Crowley id the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also recognizes there is a problem, but he is calling for the process to be expedited. He said there should be emergency funds available for them to do the work, and they already have the necessary authorization.
Last week, elected officials – including Crowley – separately toured a dredging project that’s taking place in Flushing Bay. While the officials were on the tour, Caldwell pointed out the barges to media as a problem.