Newtown Wastewater plant and neigbhorhood


Update on Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant:

Tours happen only by appointment  — I asked about a tour for next Friday and sent an e-mail but it might carry more weight coming from Jessica?   It seems like it would be a really interesting tour with the plant supervisor.

And a report from the Field:

The Visitor Center at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is gleaming and bright with mosaic tiled floors. Informative panels tell the city’s water history and explain the waste treatment process and the amazing fountain by Vito Acconci represents the city’s tap-water journey from the upstate watersheds to your sink.  Upstairs, the picture window looks out onto the plant’s sewage pumps and pipes.  While I was there, a school group was trapped in the elevator in one of the digester eggs and had to be rescued by the FDNY!

Unfortunately,  the Nature Walk was closed due to icy conditions so instead I took a sort of anti-nature bike tour of the neighborhood.  Behind the high metal fences, another world exists of scrap yards, recyclers and small manufacturing.  Outside several  yards, men unloaded vans,cars and shopping carts filled with pipe, cable, assorted metals to be weighed and sold.  I talked to one guy, Bobby, who has been collecting scrap from around the city for years.  He had made an ingenious rig on his salvaged bike for pulling a shopping cart.  That place had more everyday stuff – spools of wire, odd bits of metal and construction debris.








In one of the larger lots – Fortune Metal – which buys copper, brass, aluminum and steel, compacted blocks of metal and huge bales of wire looked ready for overseas shipping.   This place had trucks off-loading material and inside, cranes with super jaws moved piles around.

In another warehouse just across from the treatment plant, masked workers stood knee-deep in huge mounds of paper and cardboard waste.   Not surprisingly,  I guess, most of these places weren’t very keen on photographs  — in looking at one picture, I can read on the door a sign saying no pictures allowed.   I’m not sure though whether a place that has an open gate onto a public street is legally able to stop someone photographing?

Another place, Alloco, just behind the ‘digester eggs’  near the water, accepts dirt, concrete and rocks  for recycling. An assortment of cranes with long reaching claws moved and broke up the material into enormous piles .  Here behind the giant eggs and the plant’s smoke stacks, the smell is ripe.  Friends in the neighborhood say the fetid smell occasionally wafts east depending on the winds.

I was fascinated by the amount of re-use going on and how this industrial pocket co-exists with the residential neighborhood nearby. Obviously, there’s money to be made in scrap metals and paper trade – and it seems to support an underground of independent scrap collectors.  (One of the things that’s most often stolen from film sets is the heavy cable which is stripped and sold for the copper.)


No comments yet»


Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: