Update: EPA’s response to our letter on NY Waterway ferry pollution

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August 31, 2011

By Steven Greer, MD

CB1 Battery Park City committee Chairwoman Linda Belfer requested that BatteryPark.TV present our video of the NY Waterway ferries billowing black diesel particulate pollution at the Vesey Street slip on Tuesday, September 6th.

Updating our open-letter to the EPA, BatteryPark.TV spoke with a member of the enforcement staff of the EPA’s region 2. This person works for Kenneth Eng in the Clean Air division. He said, “Boy, you really caused a lot of fuss around here …numerous emails have been going back and forth…(based on your video and story)”.

This EPA official said that his office investigated the matter and concluded it was not enforceable by their offices because the pollution source is “Not stationary for more than six minutes”. This is an assertion that is disputable since, during rush hour, multiple ferries are docked, revving engines and stationary, for periods of time. longer than six minutes

The EPA official went on to say that this specific problem of ferry boat pollution was of great interest to more senior ranks within the EPA. It has been investigated in the past after complaints.

A second EPA official, also of the Region 2 enforcement office, explained that an update to the Clean Air Act, to start in June of 2012, would possibly govern marine vessels with diesel engines, possibly like the NY Waterway ferries in question. He referred us to this EPA document. He said that in June of 2012, the vehicles deemed to be regulated by this law will have to use cleaner diesel fuel and add diesel particulate filters.

The EPA also referred us to a different enforcement office run by the State of New York, the DEC and the staff of Mr. Sam Lieblich. The DEC did not return our messages, but the EPA and local CB1 members have told us that the DEC previously investigated various complaints about the boats (noise and pollution) several times but declined to enforce any law.

BatteryPark.TV reached out to the press offices of Governor Cuomo, Manhattan Borough President Stringer, Mayor Bloomberg, Assembly Speaker Silver, and U.S. Rep. Adler, but the Labor Day holiday has caused delays in responses.

To learn more about the health consequences of combustion engine pollution, and how the Clean Air Act has worked to reduce pollution, we refer you to this excellent discussion.

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