“It’s really noxious gasoline in people’s homes,” said executive director Anthony Buissereth. “We’ve also heard about folks smelling it in catch basins and on the street.”
The meeting was held at the Greenpoint YMCA Early Childhood Center. On May 23, children ranging in age from two to five years old had to be evacuated after instructors noticed the smell of gas.
“We want to figure out what is causing this and either reassure people or get more information about what some of the potential health impacts may be,” said Lael Goodman, program manager for North Brooklyn Neighbors. “That’s something that people are really concerned about.”
Representatives from the city departments of Environmental Protection, Health and Mental Hygiene and Environmental Conservation and Health at the state level were present.
Rodney Rivera from the Department of Environmental Conservation said after receiving a half-dozen calls from people claiming to smell odors inside and outside their homes, his agency began an investigation.
“It is more difficult to pinpoint the outdoor odors in comparison to indoor odors,” he said.
The agencies are focusing on the area’s sewers, noting the smell intensifies during periods of high usage.
And since smell frequencies are intermittent, it suggests that the issue is in fact related to the sewers, as vapor intrusion continues steadily throughout the day.
An official from the Department of Health said that after sampling the concentration and amount of exposure, there is no health risk to residents.
Mary Cinadr first smelled odors resembling petroleum in February. She thought it was an isolated incident, but it persisted.
“It’s an old neighborhood and it’s getting bigger,” Cinadr said. “You’ve likely got cracks all along that sewage line and vapors are getting into homes.”
Rivera said addressing the sewers was leading to overall improvement of the issue.
“After flushing some of these sewer lines, we have absolutely seen a drop in the vapors,” he said. “So it’s absolutely been an improvement, and we hope that continues.”
The city plans to flush the sewers on Huron Street next.
“Although we have pinpointed the source to being sediments in certain sewer lines, we still haven’t determined what the originating source of that is,” Rivera said. “So that’s the ongoing investigation part of what we’ve been discussing.”