For months, oily rain flooded her front yard. Then, Edgewater Park resident Carrie Zimmerman discovered that nearly five gallons of illegally-dumped motor oil was clogging a stormdrain in front of her home. In October 2009, Zimmerman began to notice oil residue in front of her home whenever it rained. She was concerned that the rainwater would seep into her basement. After a major storm in December, even more oil bubbled to the surface, and her neighbors called the Fire Department.
The oil was seeping through a manhole cover in front of her house on 5th Avenue, a dead end street in Edgewater Park. The manhole, containing a gate valve box servicing a number of homes in the area, is in place to catch some of the excess rainwater from the street during heavy downpours.
“The Fire Department came out in December with a Hazmat truck and took out some of the oil from the drain inside the manhole,” Zimmerman said. “After they were done, we threw kitty litter over the part of the street that was soaked in oil. Then the oil began to come to the surface again after heavy rains at the end of March. You could see the rainbow of colors and a slimy surface on the water.”
After months of calling 311 and reaching out to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Department of Sanitation, and NYC Fire Department, Zimmerman still had difficulties in resolving the matter. That was when she reached out to Senator Jeff Klein’s office.
Klein’s office launched an investigation, contacting DEP officials with requests to inspect the area. Klein’s office also forwarded Zimmerman’s previous 311 complaints in order to expedite the request. DEP officials inspected the area and notified Klein about the possibility of someone illegally dumping motor oil into a drain in front of Zimmerman’s home. Klein’s office then contacted the DEC in an attempt to verify this possibility. In addition, Klein’s office continued to urge DEP officials to aide in finding a solution. DEP agreed to send out a second inspector. In April, DEC officials contacted Klein and confirmed that indeed, someone had illegally dumped about five gallons of oil into the sewer drain.
DEP officials sent a contractor to pump out the oil, clearing the drain. Klein asked Zimmerman to keep an eye out for any further suspicious or illegal dumping activity.
“Fortunately, this particular flooding problem had a clear culprit that led us to a solution,” Klein said. “However, the fact remains that there are individuals who would illegally dump oil in our community and potentially cause costly, severe damage to our homes and streets. By working together we can ensure that this does not happen again.”
Reach Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742-3394 or firstname.lastname@example.org