Brooklyn’s Dead Horse Bay Tells Many Tales


If you plan on taking a trip to Dead Horse Bay, make sure to step on its grounds gingerly. 

That after Assemblywoman Jaime Williams (D-Canarsie, Georgetown, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach), State Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D- Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, Mill Basin, Old Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Flatlands, Mill Island, Georgetown, Ocean Hill, Starrett City) and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer-Amato (D-Queens) this week toured the site, which is part of the National Park Service’s (NPS) Jamaica Bay.

Dead Horse Bay was originally a dumping ground for horse carcasses during the late 1800s. Due to dumping, erosion, and unauthorized digging, the NPS has discovered gamma radiation, radium-226, and chemical contamination coming from solid waste within the bay’s soil. 

Assemblymember Jaime R. Williams
Assemblymember Jaime R. Williams
Roxanne J. Persaud
State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud

“This is not an incident of gasoline that has made its way to shore. This is the resurfacing of one of the world’s most hazardous materials, thought to be buried away that is bringing potential disaster to the wildlife, environment and of course all of the residents residing in and around the bay,” said Williams. 

NPS has now closed the southern section of Dead Horse Bay to the public for safety concerns while carrying out a further investigation. 

The NPS will further explore the radiological and chemical contaminants and their range of exposure within the bay, assessing the risk it will have on the public and the environment. 

“The ramifications of over a century of environmental neglect from a bygone industrial era in Brooklyn’s history has created an alarming situation. Unfortunately, New Yorkers today are the ones paying the price with radioactive debris from the former dumping site contaminating the shoreline,” said Persaud. 

Discoveries from the investigation found that deck markers, buried beneath the soil, contain radium and have resulted in the radiological contamination of encompassing soil, reaching a depth of two feet. 

Plans to further investigate and develop an efficient cleanup initiative to protect the surrounding environment is underway, but the projections could take up to 20 years to complete. 

In the meantime, the three lawmakers vowed to keep examining the contamination studies of Dead Horse Bay and remedies to clean the beach, using this as a valuable lesson in how to treat the environment. 

“I do not believe there is a more poignant lesson to be learned about treating the environment with respect and working in a conscientious way to ensure that we preserve our city, state, country or even our world for future generations,” said Williams.

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