NY Shops Charged With Dumping Sewage Into Creek

BusinessCrime, Law and JusticeBusinessRestaurant and Catering IndustryEntertainmentJustice SystemBrooklyn (New York City)

Several stores at Brooklyn shopping center havebeen dumping raw sewage and restaurant grease into a small creekthat empties into Jamaica Bay, a wildlife jewel next door to

Kennedy International Airport, authorities said Wednesday.

The businesses, which include a Regal Entertainment multiplextheater, a bagel shop, a TGI Friday's restaurant and a marina, werecharged with environmental violations for allegedly using bustedsewer pipes that leaked human waste into the water. Residentscomplained starting last year, but prosecutors say some of thebusinesses were first cited in 2003.

Lawyers for the businesses, managers and landlords didn't returncalls seeking comment Wednesday.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said it's not clearwhether the sewage would cause permanent environmental damage. Theleaks did not affect New York City's water supply, the largestunfiltered supply system in the world.

The waste was seeping from septic pipes that run along the banksof the Shell Bank Creek, which weaves through Sheepshead Bay and

Marine Park neighborhoods in the southeastern tip of Brooklyn,prosecutors charged. The Department of Environmental Protectionserved a notice to the manager of the Regal Entertainment Groupthat the lines needed repairing after 2003.

But after complaints in 2009, an investigation using green dyetraced discharges of fecal matter and toilet paper to the creekfrom the movie theater, according to Brooklyn prosecutors. Theother businesses charged, which include Knapp Street Bagels and theDeauville Marina, also used the pipes.

The bagel shop and TGI Friday's and its landlord were alsocharged with dumping untreated grease and oil into the creek. Theestablishment is a franchise; a restaurant manager couldn'tcomment, and a corporate TGI Friday's spokesperson did not returnan after-hours call seeking comment. An after-hours message leftwith Regal Entertainment Group was also not returned. There was noanswer at the bagel shop.

Shell Bank Creek empties into Jamaica Bay and ultimately, the

Atlantic Ocean. The salt marsh islands dotting the bay are slowlydisappearing, and though no one knows for sure why the marshes aredisappearing, but some environmentalists say wastewater isaccelerating the problem.

The loss of the islands could have huge ramifications for theenvironment: A quarter of the country's bird population makes itsway through Jamaica Bay.

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