Rotting Seaweed Stinks Up Waterfront Community - NBC New York

Rotting Seaweed Stinks Up Waterfront Community



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    The scene along the shore in Point Lookout, Long Island seems idyllic, until you take a deep breath.

    "It's like breathing in raw sewage," said resident Dana Conklin.

    "It smells like rotten eggs to the umpteenth degree," added neighbor Joe Mulvey.

    The stench is coming from rotting seaweed, covering the sand along the shore.  he green, gooey mess has been piling up along Reynolds Channel all summer long, residents said -- and it has turned this waterfront paradise into a personal hell for those who live here.

    Headaches, breathing issues and even chest pains are not uncommon among those exposed to the stink, residents claimed.

     "You're smelling this day after day, there's got to be some dangerous health situation," said Mary Olotka, who lives near the shore. "It's like poison."

    The decomposing seaweed is emitting a gas called hydrogen sulfide, a Nassau health department spokesperson said; but, air tests done Tuesday and Wednesday found levels well within safety standards.  A third day of testing is planned for Thursday.

    Hempstead town crews have also removed parts of the seaweed pile during the course of the summer; but it keeps returning.

    "We're doing what we can but it's tough to fight mother natures," said Hempstead spokesman Mike Deery, who called the seaweed invasion a natural occurrence.

    Residents have registered complaints with and sent petitions to state and county lawmakers and environmental officials. 

    The seaweed pile, residents claimed, is the result of nearby sewage plants that, they believe, are pumping nitrogen and spurring seaweed growth.  

    Right now, however, town officials say there is no scientific data to support or contest that belief.

    Hempstead has been consulting with state environmental officials and is exploring a possible engineering solution- dumping rock and sand along the shore to try and keep the seaweed from piling up.

    For frustrated residents, help can't come soon enough.

    "They have to resolve this," said Mary Olotka. "And they should have found a resolution yesterday."