Elected officials are pushing for the Environmental Protection Agency to step in and designate the Gravesend Bay Transfer Station a Superfund site. If this happens, construction will halt in the area while a huge environmental clean-up gets underway.

Angry residents have been protesting the construction of the marine waste transfer station at 400 Bay 41st Street for a number of years. Among other concerns, locals are worried that the dredging required to build the station will stir up noxious chemicals left behind by an incinerator from decades past.

This possible contamination was the focus of a letter by U.S. Representative Dan Donovan, Assemblymember William Colton and Councilmember Mark Treyger to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The reps wrote:

“Disturbingly, a 2012 study conducted by the New York City Department of Sanitation identified extremely high levels of metals, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and pesticides at the incinerator site. The study listed the following contaminants at Type C levels, the highest degree possible: Mercury; Chlordane, a pesticide; Mirex, an insecticide which the EPA banned in 1976; and Dioxins... Dredging and other activities necessitated by construction of the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Waste Transfer Station could further disturb the dangerous toxins, threatening the health and safety of the nearby area."

Councilmember Vincent Gentile penned his own letter to EPA regional head Judith Enck, pointing out that back in 1954, a ship carrying munitions capsized in the same bay, "littering the ocean floor with potentially active shells." Gentile believes that if the shells explode, the city runs the risk of "the chemicals left by the incinerator being disseminated throughout New York City waters." The shells have been a hot topic since at least 2008, well before the transfer station construction began.

While the wheels may be in motion to get the Gravesend Bay site cleaned up, the Superfund process is complex. Multiple site assessments and placement on a National Priorities List has to happen before the authorities can order the responsible parties to take action—in the past, the co-chair of the Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group labelled the procedure "exhausting".

If the Gravesend Bay Transfer Station is eventually slapped with a Superfund label, it will join the polluted likes of Newtown Creek, the Gowanus Canal and the old Wolff-Alport building in Ridgewood (a spot previously dubbed "The Most Radioactive Place in New York City").