The bed of Newtown Creek is 15 feet thick and made of "black mayonnaise" from the millions of gallons of oil and chemicals that have spilled into its waters since the mid-19th century. But just because it's a Superfund site doesn't mean Newtown Creek can afford to take any more human abuse. The Times reports that someone has been dumping a whole lot of oil into the waterway over the past few weeks.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has been getting calls from people reporting fresh "rainbow sheens" in Newtown for weeks. “It’s not normal to see a fresh rainbow sheen on any waterway," Willis Elkins, the head of the Newtown Creek Alliance told the paper.
Last week, DEC received an anonymous tip claiming that the oil was coming from the Borden Avenue Bridge, just south of the LIE and east of Long Island City on Dutch Kills.
Investigators conducted surveillance and found a giant oil truck marked Cobra Scrap Waste Oil parked near the bridge, disgorging its contents into a drain, the driver nowhere to be found.
Queens Brownstoner has a picture of the drain, and reports that between two and three thousand gallons were dumped during this incident alone.
From the Times' report:
[The truck's] owner, Robert Lorenz, was called back to the site to explain what had happened, but he denied having dumped any oil and refused to pay for a contractor to clean up the oil, [the investigator] wrote.
Mr. Lorenz, who said he was in the business of transporting waste oil, said that his truck held about 2,000 gallons of oil and none had leaked out. He said he did not know who owned the property where his truck had been parked, but he named a competitor as the likely source of any oil that had leaked into the creek.
Oh, well that clears things up.
Mr. Lorenz was charged by prosecutors in Queens in 2008 with stealing 22 cars off city streets using a tow truck marked “Cobra Scrap” and selling the cars for scrap. A spokeswoman for the district attorney in Queens said that Mr. Lorenz pleaded guilty in 2009 to criminal possession of stolen property and was conditionally discharged.
The Coast Guard and the DEC installed booms to soak up the oil, and investigators are currently "preparing their case."