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Big News!

Graves of Arthur Kill”  will make its World Premiere on Wednesday, May 7 at the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival. The 32 minute documentary – directed by Will Van Dorp, aka Tugster – will be one of 5 short films shown on Opening Night.

There will be a prescreening reception which starts at 7 p.m. and the films begin at 8 p.m. Click here for tickets.

Brooklyn Heights Cinema
70 Henry Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Subway: A/C to High Street or 2/3 to Clark Street


World Premiere

Documentary, 32 min. USA
Directed by Will Van Dorp

Though it’s been described as an “accidental museum,” the graveyard of ships at New York City’s southernmost point isn’t on any tourism maps. The site is owned by a metal recycling company and visitors are turned away. But this bone yard begs for attention. Rusty tugboats sit lopsided in its muddy waters. Rotting wooden skeletons of old barges dot the shoreline. Collectively, these crumbling vessels seem like haunting maritime sculptures in a massive art installation.

Will Van Dorp is a photographer, author and English professor at Union County College in Elizabeth, N.J. He is also a knowledgeable observer of what he calls New York City’s “sixth borough,” the waters in and around the Port of New York. He chronicles much that happens in these waters in his “Tugster” blog, which was featured in a 2011 New York Times profile.


Just a quick post today of a very cool photo-series by Mitch Waxman – who went down to Newtown Creek over the weekend to get a look at the dredging that is going on. The clam-shell “scooper” that was spit-shiny clean a couple of weeks ago has now been well worked, and is smeared with the black, oily sediments of the federal superfund site.

Check out how DonJon’s rig and tugs seem to match the brilliant blue sky as they work on clearing the bed of the creek. The dredging operation is now running 24/7 and if all goes as planned, should be completed in the next month or so.

DonJon’s dredging rig and tugs on Newtown Creek. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

DonJon’s work boat keeps the barge nice and stable. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

Industry-geeks will like this one. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

Toxic ‘black mayonnaise’ sediment dribbles from the clam-shell. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

The dredging is now in operation 24 hours-a-day. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

Thomas D. Witte. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

The dredging operation is slated to take 6 weeks. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

The watery mix is barged out to DonJon’s dewatering station near the Statue of Liberty for processing. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee, all photos by Mitch Waxman


Photo courtesy of Laura Hofmann via the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee facebook page.

Dredging of the Newtown Creek is about to start. DonJon Marine is going to be doing the heavy lifting and scraping up and hauling out some of the gooey black sediment for the next month and a half or so.

Laura Hofmann, a member of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee, posted these photos on facebook. Looks like some equipment has started arriving on site.

Photo courtesy of Laura Hofmann via the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Laura Hofmann via the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Laura Hofmann via the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee facebook page.

It looks like the dredging project on Newtown Creek is getting ready to get underway. Although I know it’s going to be a smelly exercise, I’m really excited!

Thank you Laura Hofmann for the awesome photos!

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee



Someone coughs near me on my crowded commute. Me: holding my breath in a vain attempt to “avoid their germs” as I turn purple around the edges. Futile attempt, really.

Photo courtesy of

But short of walking around in a surgical mask like my folks do in Asia, what can I do?

If only there were some kind of germ-mask that didn’t look like a germ-mask…

LEO SCOUGH – Black Flannel Scarf with Light Blue Mustache. Photo:

Well look-ee here, a Gowanus inventor team has developed something called a Scough.

A scough is a scarf with a germ-barrier mask tucked in a hidden pocket in the scarf. It even has elastic ear-bands to help hold your germ-barrier in place. The removable mask has carbon and silver filters that according to the Brooklyn inventors, absorb germs and pollution and even kill viruses.



Scoughes are made of cotton, some with a cashmere or wool blend.  All scoughes come with one filter and cost between $39 and $59. Replacement filters can be purchased for $10 each or $20 for a 3-pack. Read more at DNAinfo, Brooklyn News12.

So why this odd post about scoughs? Well, while struggling for an April Fools post, I found this story that reeked of a prank. Upon investigation, I was amused to find it was indeed a real product. Now that’s an April Fool’s joke for ya!

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee


Dredging starts on Newtown Creek next week according to the NYC DEP latest update as reported by Brownstoner Queens, Queens Chronicle and Gothamist.

Dredging will take approximately 6 weeks. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman via Queens Brownstoner

Newtown Creek, one of two federally designated superfund sites in NYC is about to have some of her toxic sediments scooped out to deepen and widen the maritime channel for the brand new state-of-the-art sludge boats that have been procured by the city.

New DEP Sludge boat – Hunts Point. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman/Newtown Pentacle

Our current sludge boat fleet will be phased out over time and replaced with the new vessels, which have been custom-designed to pump their “honey” directly from the boat into the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant facility.

DEP Sludge Boat Newtown Creek. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman / Newtown Pentacle

This necessitates dredging the maritime channel to accommodate the new vessels from Whale Creek (waterway located next to the Nature Walk pocket park) out to the mouth of Newtown Creek at the East River.

The dredging is scheduled to take 6 weeks and will operate 24 hours a day during some of that period. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection has released the following update (PDF download):

Attached flyer in text:

From NYC Department of Environmental Protection:


Beginning the week of March 31, 2014 and continuing for approximately 6 weeks, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will be dredging Newtown Creek. The following is a brief overview of the work scheduled and potential community impacts and mitigation measures.


The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is the largest in the City and operates, like most plants, through an activated sludge process. In order for this treatment process to work, waste sludge must be removed every day. Presently, waste sludge is piped to a storage tank near the East River in Greenpoint and then transferred to a sludge vessel (boat) for delivery to Wards Island for further processing.

DEP needs to demolish the sludge storage tank to make way for new affordable housing. A new sludge dock has been built at Whale Creek, adjacent to the Newtown Creek plant, and sludge vessels will soon receive waste sludge there instead of the existing East River tank and dock. However, to navigate to the new dock, maintenance dredging must be done along Newtown Creek to remove sediment and debris which accumulates in the waterway.


  • Dredge operations are expected to start in Whale Creek and then move west along Newtown Creek towards the Pulaski Bridge to the mouth of Newtown Creek.
  • Operations will be performed initially in 12-hour shifts, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. As operations move into Newtown Creek, work will run 24 hours per day in order to minimize impacts to marine traffic.
  • All work will be performed from barges located on the water with all required Coast Guard lighting and signage for safe boating.


During the dredging operations, hydrogen sulfide gas trapped in the sediment may be released. This gas has a strong odor of rotten eggs. DEP will monitor for odor and take preventive measures to control the releases..


Please contact Shane Ojar, Director of Community Affairs at 718-595-4148 or via e-mail at To report a noise or odor complaint, please call 311.

So, if you smell something, say something and call 311 with any odor, noise or pollution complaints. Read more at Brownstoner Queens, Queens Chronicle and Gothamist.

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee

Could the Gowanus Canal and it’s industrial surrounds soon be designated a historical district?

Proposed Gowanus Canal Historic District. Map: State Historic Preservation Office via the New York Daily News

The State Historic Preservation Office was set to vote on the designation this week, but the ballot has been pushed back 60 days after a request for more time to review the proposal, as reported by the New York Daily News.

The Gowanus Canal. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

If approved, the Gowanus Canal Historic District would span 53 blocks of approximately 422 industrial properties. Landowners oppose the plan saying the buildings “have absolutely no historic value and no architectural integrity.” Read more at the New York Daily News here…

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee

Rendering via + POOL

Remember the water-filtering pool idea from a few years ago?

Well, it’s back and as reported by NYU Local, it’s happening. As early as this Spring, a prototype of the quad-pronged pool will hit the East River off the coast of Brooklyn.

Rendering via + POOL

In an interview with NYU Local, the + POOL project designers spoke of wanting “to create a part of the river that is clean and safe enough to actually swim in” with their combo filtration-recreational facility.

+ POOL is four pools in one: a Kid’s pool, Sports pool, Lap pool and Lounge pool.

From the + POOL website: “the layered filtration system incrementally removes bacteria and contaminants to ensure nothing but clean, swimmable water that meets both city and state standards. No chemicals, no additives, just natural river water.”

Rendering via + POOL

Can someone help me out? Isn’t the East River is already a fishable, swimmable waterway? People already swim the 6th Boro, don’t they?

Brooklyn Bridge Swim Event. Photo by Terrance O’Malley, via NYC Swim

NYU Local: The new technology is ready to test, and the three co-founders are looking forward to the launch of the 35-foot prototype, which will remain in the East River throughout next winter, in order to collect data about the way it operates in all different seasons.

If all goes according to plan, the pool will become a reality for the summer of 2016. Read more about the project at NYU Local and + POOL.

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee

A baby seal was seen lounging on a step at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk yesterday. No, the chubby critter was not sick, he or she just thought they’d stop by for snack and a bit of sun.

Photo by Sean Scaglione/NYCDEP via The New York Daily News.

As reported by the New York Daily News, the baby harp seal plopped itself on a low step at the Newtown Ceek Nature Walk which is a public access point to the contaminated waterway.

Officials believe the seal swam in on the high tide in search of a meal, and decided to stick around for a sunbathe before heading back out on the receding tide. “There were no injuries and no concern, the animal appeared to be alert and aware.”

Photo by Sean Scaglione/NYCDEP via The New York Post.

New York Daily News: A group of teens skating nearby said they were startled by the sight of a baby seal on the pavement around 2 p.m. at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk.

Damian Snickersen, 14, said he and his friends tried to coax the adorable seal to the water without touching it. “It looked scared. It was a baby seal, not too big, like the size of a dog, a fat dog,” he said. “We wanted to lead it to the water but we didn’t want it touch it.” Read more at The NYDN here…

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee

Check out this amazing video of a huge pod of dolphins on jaunt off the California coast by Captain Dave Anderson, of Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari, in Dana Point, California that’s making waves on the internet. NBC. Daily Mail. IBT. Gizmodo.



Using a small copter-like drone, Captain Dave captured the aerial footage of thousands of dolphin “stampeding” across the water. There is also footage of three grey whales on migration on the clip. It’s a truly jaw-dropping watch.

Read more at Dolphin Safari here…

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee

Present Architecture has designed a proposal that they hope will change the way we handle our garbage.

“Green Loop” rendering via Present Architecture.

As Gizmodo reports, “We send trucks millions of miles every year, creating traffic, noise pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, all of this so that our waste can be landfilled, where it then rots and creates even more greenhouse gas,” explain the designers at Present Architecture, the New York-based firm behind the proposal.

“It’s a big, dirty problem.”

“Green Loop” rendering via Present Architecture.

Their idea is based on building a network of artificial islands called “Green Loops” in our area waterways, that would house dozens of organic waste (aka food scraps) processing sites within, topped with a giant 12-acre park.

“Green Loop” rendering via Present Architecture.

The separated organics would be collected and trucked to these processing centers where it would be composted on an industrial scale.

The designers say these island facilities will “create a network of composting parks processing our organic waste (30% of our residential waste stream), while adding 125 acres of public park land.”

Read more at Gizmodo here and see the proposal at Present here…

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee

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