Toxi City: Exploring Brooklyn's Industrial Legacy

Sunset Park

Posted in Brooklyn,Brownfield,Sunset Park by Robin on August 7, 2009
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I went to Sunset Park this am to photograph the Empire Electric site at 5100 1st Avenue.

This building, now abandoned, originally housed an electrical power system for the city’s trolleys.

Then in the 1950s it was purchased by Empire Electric and used for reconditioning electrical apparatus.

The building itself including the floors, walls, and ground beneath the building is all thought to be contaminated with PCBs.

Peter explained to me that PCBs were chosen to insulate around electricity because they are so stable. This is also what make them so difficult to get rid of. They do not easily degrade so they hang around in the environment.

Right next to this site between 52nd and 54th is an oil installation over what was Kings County Works Manufactured Gas Plant.


June 17th-Williamsburg

Posted in Brownfield,Williamsburg by Robin on June 17, 2009
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I started this am at the former Nassau Works site which is now a sanitation department facility. I had taken a shot of this sand pile the last time I was there that I liked but the focus was off. This time the light wasn’t on the sand. I also hadn’t noticed the Municipal Building in the background before.

A lot of the facility is used for parking.

Next I went to the Fyn Paint and Lacquer Co site at 230 Kent. I think this is the building. the site has high levels of both VOCs and NAPL. The ground water is contaminated and flows towards the East River.

Then I went to the site of the former Williamsburg Works. The last time I walked by this site over a year ago, it was being used as a parking lot for Sanitation Department vehicles. Today it was empty. Two women were inside the fence working at the back of a car. When I talked to them they gave me a fact sheet from the NYSDEC about the ongoing Remedial Investigation. This site was a MGP from 1850 until the 1930s. There is a large amount of tar in the soil.


Immediately adjacent is Bayside Oil, another site targeted for remediation.