Word of the Day:
Pollution (n.) – the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects.
Latin: from polluere: to soil, defile, contaminate
Intro Lesson: We started off today, Thursday, August 6th, learning about the word of the day: pollution. As usual, we started labeling the boroughs and bridges on a map of New York City. We focused specifically on this maze-looking section between Brooklyn and Queens, which we learned was our destination for the day: Newtown Creek. We talked about how the creek used to be very natural and looked like any, normal, “flow-ey” river should, but was “channelized” by humans to help with trade and industries, and it now looks very “robotic” and straight-edged. We also learned that with industrialization, the process of turning an area into a business and manufacturing district, factories and oil refineries popped up all along the side of Newtown Creek. With all this human activity, and without careful monitoring, toxic chemicals and sewage overflow, seeped into the Newtown Creek; over hundreds of years, all this pollution really added up! We learned that the bottom of the creek is polluted with gunk called “Black Mayonnaise.” Sounds disgusting right? It is. This is not the kind of mayonnaise we would want to put on our sandwiches. It’s a mix of oil, feces, and a whole bunch of other gross stuff – Yuck! Although there were over one hundred years of polluting the creek, a few years ago, the community (back to our word of the day from the Bronx River Ride!) around the Newtown Creek decided to push for efforts to clean up the creek. In 2010, the Newtown Creek became a Superfund site, meaning the government will help take the control of the clean up the water.
On the road:
As always, we left P.S. 38 and quickly reviewed our safety signals before heading down 102nd street. The All-Stars, living up to their name, rode like champs uphill and across the pedestrian overpass to Bobby Wagner walk along the East River. Today we were lucky enough to have two helper co-leaders: Rob, one of Cappy’s friend, and Cecilia, Claire’s twin sister! We rode over to the Queensboro Bridge (nothing new for our riders!) and down into Queens, heading towards the East River. We then rode south, down Vernon Boulevard, through Long Island City before…getting our Brooklyn Badges! To get to Brooklyn, we took the Pulaski Bridge. Halfway across the bridge, we stopped to take a look at the water from above. We got a great view of the Newtown Creek from the bridge, but unfortunately saw a lot of pollution as well. There were bottles and plastic in the water, and we could even see the rainbow shimmer of oil coating the top layer of the water…yikes, that’s not good! Continuing off the bridge, we headed towards the site that greatly contributed to polluting the Newtown Creek years ago: the site of an underground explosion in Greenpoint! In 1950, on the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Huron Street, a sewer explosion gave a clue to the extent of the oil spillage in the neighborhood—gases had seeped into the system and BOOM! Manhole covers shot into the air, windows shattered, and a crater was left in the street! The oil spillage causing this explosion was one of many sources of pollution slowly, but continually seeping into the river.
We then headed to a revitalized section of Newtown Creek waterfront at Whale Creek tributary—Newtown Creek Nature Walk. We winded our way through the maze-like entrance, very similar to the winding estuary pattern of the original creek. At the very back of the walk, we sat around the water, on benches, and at one long picnic table to enjoy our lunch. Here, we met up with Jude and Claire, who met up with Justin and Cecilia, working on a flat tire, on the Pulaski Bridge. After lunch, we sampled water, with the same set up as always, from the Newtown Creek. But we didn’t stop with the water. Justin brought along an anchor attached to a long yellow rope. Unwinding the rope, we threw down the anchor to the bottom of the creek. Slowly and carefully we pulled up the anchor…and had a slimy surprise waiting… Black Mayonnaise!! Some brave All-Stars put on rubber gloves and touched the sludge ! That seems like a badge-worthy-activity..!
Rejuvenated from lunch and the excitement form the Black Mayonnaise escapade, we headed back over the Pulaski. When we were back in Queens, we stopped at a park to fill up on water. Our Tae Kwon Do master, Katelynn, used the break to get us moving with some Tae Kwon Do before saddling back up on the bikes. We then rode to Queensboro Bridge, and up, over, and down: some tough hill work that the All-Stars easily mastered! We were finally back to Manhattan and just had to bike back up 1st Avenue to P.S. 38. Thanks again to our visitors for joining us today, and helping our All-Stars have another All-Star showing today !
Cappy Collins, Justin Downs, Jude Appiah, Georgia Bancheri, Alberto Rivera, Raven Lee, Stella Chong, Claire Castellano, Cecilia Castellano, Katelynn Pan, Katie Litman, and Rob
Miles biked: 14.02
Miles walked: .95
Program time (hours): 5.5
Ride time (hours): 4.25
Calories burned*: 649 biking (road cycling, low intensity) + 43 walking + 76 Taekwondo (aerobic cross-training) = 768
Water Quality Monitoring Results
Pesticides: Weakly Positive
Estimates based on 100lbs, 5′ 2″ ht, average between male and female.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]