The waters surrounding our lovely little trash island may be best described as garbage juice, so I can see where someone might gaze out upon the landscape and think, "Well, surely nothing I do could make this situation worse." But New York City can always get more disgusting—just ask the residents of Red Hook, who now have the pleasure of living alongside an enormous floating sewage dump after a party boat spewed 500 gallons of human waste into the Atlantic Basin this weekend. That's 2.5 hot tubs' worth of poop, according to the New York Post's helpful visual metaphor, floating alarmingly close to the Red Hook Lobster Pound.
The Post reports that the roughly 100-foot Avalon (which boasts a 200-person capacity and a fake grass-trimmed deck) discharged its stinking mass, the equivalent of 300 toilet flushes, around 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. The NYPD Harbor Unit picked up the scent after talk of the gigantic dump surfaced on a police radio, and according to the NYPD, the United States Coast Guard and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are now investigating the offending "dinner cruise boat." Because not only is this a very gross thing to do, it is also very much against the law.
The BoatUS Foundation states that, while "sewage regulations are some of the most misunderstood boating laws ... it is ILLEGAL to discharge UNTREATED sewage on inland waters and within 3 miles of shore." Boats must come equipped with an onboard treatment device, or a holding tank that can be emptied on shore, to avoid fecal bacteria contaminating the waters and shellfish beds—a big concern for Red Hook. As one angry resident pointed out to the Post, who wants to eat feces-fed fish?
Neither the Coast Guard nor the Department of Environmental Conservation immediately responded to a request for comment, and it's unclear who was responsible for chartering the boat on Sunday. We'll update when we know more.