“Dredge Sludge” From Gowanus Might Be Shipped To Red Hook, Used As Building Material


The solution to the Gowanus’ ongoing filth problem may be here. A property tycoon has offered to take toxic sludge from the superfund site, put it on the back of a barge, and ship it to Red Hook to literally expand his pre-existing property further into the water. But of course!

John Quadrozzi — a “concrete magnate” who owns the the Gowanus Bay Terminal on Red Hook’s Columbia Street — brought the proposal to a meeting of Community Board 6 earlier this week, suggesting that he could use the sludge to extend the terminal’s land further into it surrounding waters, thus accommodating more ships, as well as a “floating maritime museum he hopes to create.

People are understandably a little confused. “I’ve never heard of anybody in the private sector doing something like this. I’m just baffled,” said one NYU professor of planning.

But hey, before we all go nay-saying Quadrozzi’s garbage island, let’s hear him out. In an email to DNAinfo, the developer explained, “Like turning water into wine, the dredge sludge could be remediated and beneficially re-used locally as both a building material and in the creation of… future maritime economic development in Red Hook — a repeat of history of what once made Red Hook great.”

That, and the project would likely bring between 50 and 100 “immediate jobs” to the neighborhood. So, you know, there’ve been better ideas, there have been worse. People have also suggested melting all the toxic waste into glass cubes, somehow. The whole thing is a tough nut to crack.

Anyway, none of this is settled (no one’s sure if expanding one’s property in such a way is even legal), and the EPA won’t decide on an official sludge plan until mid-2013, so until then, the floor is open to wild conjecture, which is welcome and encouraged. America, after all, was built on the wacky, logistically implausible ideas of people with money to burn.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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