Sewage Dumps in Hudson, East River; Swimmers, Kayakers Warned

Several area beaches are now affected, the DEP says

Friday, Jul 22, 2011  |  Updated 9:53 AM EDT
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A fire at a Harlem treatment plant forced the facility to dump sewage into the Hudson River, shutting both that river and the East River from swimmers and kayakers until further notice. The Riverkeeper Foundation went out near the center to take footage of sewage in the river.

Riverkeeper

A fire at a Harlem treatment plant forced the facility to dump sewage into the Hudson River, shutting both that river and the East River from swimmers and kayakers until further notice. The Riverkeeper Foundation went out near the center to take footage of sewage in the river.

Raw sewage from an upper Manhattan wastewater treatment plant is dumping into the Hudson River after a fire in the engine room, causing officials to warn it may not be safe to swim in area rivers and at several city beaches.

The Hudson is off-limits, along with the Harlem River and the East River from the RFK Bridge to the Verrazano Bridge, officials said.

No beaches are closed, but officials said Thursday that swimming and bathing is not recommended at Sea Gate Beach in Brooklyn, along with South Beach, Midland Beach and Cedar Grove Beach in Staten Island.

"Water quality modeling indicates that these beaches have been potentially impacted by the untreated sewer discharges," the New York City Department of Environmental Protection said.

The DEP says it is not clear when the leak will be brought under control. Additional beaches are being monitored.

The city is also warning against eating fish caught in these waters.

Untreated wastewater began flowing into the Hudson Wednesday evening after a four-alarm fire broke out in the engine room of the North River Wastewater Treatment Plan on West 135th Street, which treats an average of 120 million gallons of wastewater a day.

The blaze forced the shutdown of the plant and the evacuation of the nearby Riverbank State Park. The park remains closed.

The city's drinking water has not been contaminated but kayakers and swimmers are advised to stay out of rivers and away from affected beaches through at least Monday.

New Jersey officials said they are monitoring water quality and coastland.

DEP said it is applying chlorine in some areas near the plant to reduce bacteria.

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