T.G.I. Friday's Among Those Charged With Dumping Waste and Raw Sewage in Brooklyn Waterways
Kings County district attorney Charles J. Hynes just sent out a press release announcing the arrests of eight people charged with dumping raw sewage and restaurant grease into Sheepshead Bay's Shell Bank Creek, a waterway that is home to bluefish, crab, and striped bass, as well as a marina.
Among those facing charges are a local T.G.I. Friday's and its landlord, as well as the manager of Knapp Street Bagel, a shop that sits nearby T.G.I.'s and the Regal Cinema that is also named as one of the creek's worst polluters. While the bagel shop was charged with dumping untreated human waste into the creek, T.G.I.'s alleged crime was dumping untreated waste grease, and oil. Some may say that's the lesser of the evils -- we're more inclined to see it as the evil of the lessers.
The full release follows below:
KINGS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHARLES J. HYNES, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION ACTING COMMISSIONER PETER IWANOWICZ, AND NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION COMMISSIONER CAS HOLLOWAY ANNOUNCE
THE ARREST OF EIGHT PEOPLE CHARGED WITH
DUMPING RAW SEWAGE INTO SHELL BANK CREEK
THREE CORPORATIONS ALSO CHARGED
Brooklyn, December 8, 2010 - Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz, and New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway today announced the arrest of eight people and businesses, including a Regal Cinemas multiplex movie theatre and a TGI Friday's, charged with dumping raw sewage and restaurant grease into the Shell Bank Creek, in Sheepshead Bay.
"There is no excuse for the disgraceful pollution of our waterways and beaches," said District Attorney Hynes. "In 2008 I set up an Environmental Crimes Unit within the Rackets Division, to investigate and prosecute polluters and clean up our rivers and beaches. Thanks to the continued cooperation of the DEC and DEP on this and other cases, we have had great success."
"What is alleged to have occurred shows a total disregard for the environment and public health," said DEC Commissioner Iwanowicz. "It has been a truly collaborative effort by the state, city and Kings County District Attorney to put a stop to these illegal practices. Our joint effort sends a clear message that the state and its partners are committed to enforcing environmental laws and will prosecute such cases to the fullest."
"I want to thank District Attorney Hynes for acting decisively to put a stop to illegal discharges like this, which degrade water quality and are a threat to public health," said DEP Commissioner Holloway. "DEP's Shoreline Survey team is constantly on the lookout for discharges that could pollute New York Harbor, and when we find one, we work with State authorities to put a stop to it. Today's arrests send a strong message to property owners who would turn a blind eye to water pollution, or delay fixing a problem: take responsibility and act now. We will continue to work with the State Department of Environmental Conservation, District Attorney Hynes, and the entire enforcement community to ensure that New York's waterways remain clean and safe."
The investigation began with complaints from residents, in 2009, of sewage and grease in Shell Bank Creek, which traverses the Sheepshead Bay and Marine Park neighborhoods near Gerritsen Beach and Plumb Beach, before emptying into Jamaica Bay and eventually, the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to bluefish, crab, striped bass and other fish, Shell Bank Creek is home to a marina with several house boats. The septic pipes from a nearby shopping center run along the creek's bank, and if they leak, effluent runs directly into the waterway.
The area around the creek is not served by the New York City sewer system, and businesses operating there must maintain their own private wastewater lines, which connect to a city sewage treatment center nearby. However, beginning in 2003, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection served multiple notices on Craig Novoa, the Regal Entertainment Group manager responsible for the theater, that its sewer lines leaked and needed repairs.
The investigation revealed that, in spite of these notices, noxious odors, fecal matter and toilet paper from the movie theater's septic system were present in the creek as recently as this year. Using green dye, investigators traced discharges from the movie theater's septic system and determined that the dye entered Shell Bank Creek. Other businesses charged with using the damaged sewage pipes included Tae Young Deli Corp, known as Knapp Street Bagel, TGI Friday's and 49 Holding Corp., known as Deauville Marina.
Regal Entertainment Group; Craig Novoa; Knapp Street Bagels and its manager, Simon Shin; and Deauville Marina and its manager, David Matalon, all face charges related to dumping untreated human waste into Shell Bank Creek. Knapp Street Bagels, Shin, and TGI Friday's and its landlord, Alex Spivak, are also charged with dumping untreated waste grease and oil into the creek.
The case is being prosecuted by Environmental Crimes Unit Assistant District Attorney John Rudikoff and Bureau Chief John Holmes, and Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Kurtz and Rackets Division Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline Linares. Michael Vecchione is Chief of the Rackets Division.
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