West Side Spirit: Senator Espaillat discusses the health impact of sewage spilling into the Hudson River and calls for improved notification system

Adriano Espaillat

August 04, 2011

Unclean Waters:

Do 200 million gallons of sewage dumped into the Hudson last week pose a health threat to Upper West Siders?

By Megan Finnegan

Last week, an emergency shutdown of the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant necessitated a 200 million gallon dump of untreated sewage into the Hudson River, giving West Siders a brief taste of the horrific and unsanitary condition that used to be the norm for the now cleaned-up river.

Following a four-alarm fire in the plant’s engine room, the cause of which is still being investigated, the plant had to close last Wednesday in the midst of one of the hottest summer stretches in decades, forcing the closure of city beaches and a slew of emergency measures to get the plant back in operational order. The river is now almost back to normal, but some activists and politicians say that the incident should be a wake-up call to the city to improve its notification system when an environmental hazard threatens New Yorkers.

“The city did not immediately notify communities of the problem,” said State Sen. Adriano Espaillat. “People were alerted by the stench of the water, not a public notice.” He has called for a thorough investigation into the city’s handling of the situation.

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