[Image: The Brooklyn sludge slowly surfaces… Photo by Jeff Riedel for New York Magazine].
The largest oil spill in American history is apparently: 1) in New York City, 2) nearly a century old, and 3) beginning to re-surface under Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
An article in New York Magazine this week dives head-first into the spill, asking us to “imagine a viscous tar-colored blob stretching amoebalike through the Earth.” This viscous blob is really “ten million gallons of toxic gunk trapped in the Brooklyn aquifer,” made of “gasoline, solvents, and associated poisons bubbling up from the very ground.” These associated poisons include naptha, from which napalm is manufactured.
The subterranean Brooklyn blob represents “more than a century’s worth of spills, leaks, and waste dumped by oil companies” – and it’s “pooled into a vast underground lake, more than 55 acres wide and up to 25 feet thick.”
Not only has it infiltrated the region’s water supply (don’t worry: they pipe water in from the Catskills), but it means you can set the soil on fire.
[Image: A map of the subsurface blob; illustration by Jason Lee, courtesy of New York Magazine].
Worse, thousands of people now live on top of it…
From the article:
No one really knows what the consequences of Greenpoint’s oil spill have been – or will be. It’s like the dust from 9/11, the chemicals dumped at Love Canal, the nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island, or even global warming. Do we ever really know their costs? Perhaps twenty years from now epidemiological studies will reveal a link between living in Greenpoint and dying of cancer.
Though it seems the cancer rate may already be on the rise.
In any case, I could go on and on – or you could just read the whole article. It’s not a life-changing read – and it’s conclusion is strangely anticlimactic – but the very idea of a black tarry blob drifting beneath the streets of New York is far too awesome to resist.
(Thanks to Dan Polsby for the tip!)