Creating a Post-Sandy Rebuilding Strategy: The Waterfront ProjectHurricane Sandy demonstrated the vulnerability of New York City’s waterfront communities and need for resiliency planning for future severe weather occurrences.
New York City Environmental Justice Alliance
Special Projects Fund
April 2013 – May 2014
Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the vulnerability of New York City’s waterfront communities and need for resiliency planning for future severe weather occurrences.
Several of these waterfronts have large industrial concentrations of chemical manufacturing plants, garbage-transfer stations, and sewage treatment centers located in close proximity to residential areas. These industrial businesses generate large amounts of toxins, which can threaten the health and quality of life of some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Prior to Hurricane Sandy, the City of New York had not analyzed the public health exposure risks associated with heavy industrial toxins in these locations, which also have high proportions of low-income residents and people of color.
In 2013, NYSHealth awarded a grant to New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA) to pursue a Hurricane Sandy recovery agenda emphasizing an environmentally responsible rebuilding strategy.
Outcomes and Lessons Learned
- Leveraged additional funding from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NYC Housing and Neighborhood Recovery Donors Collaborative to examine the vulnerability of recovery workers and voluntary clean-up workers to potential hazardous exposures in affected areas of Brooklyn. These funds were secured in collaboration with UPROSE (the oldest Latino community-based organization in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park and a member of NYC-EJA), RAND Corporation, and The Lifeline Group;
- Created geographic information system maps to document potential toxic contamination and public health risk exposures and assess existing conditions in industrial waterfront neighborhoods;
- Developed a set of best management practices that identified innovative policy efforts to reduce the potential impact of climate change on vulnerable coastal areas, including building adaptation interventions, developing emergency management protocols, and establishing pollution prevention strategies;
- Reviewed a draft of the City’s Waterfront Revitalization Program to assess modifications to the program, created an updated set of advocacy recommendations to address the new draft revisions, and met with the Department of City Planning to discuss recommendations;
- Developed recommendations to reduce potential hazardous exposures to industrial waterfront neighborhoods, which were incorporated into the Open Industrial Uses Study draft report published by the Department of City Planning;
- Published the Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda—a comprehensive set of rebuilding and resiliency recommendations—in April 2013;
- Published a policy analysis that assesses the Mayor’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency Plan; and
- Participated in public hearings convened by the New York City Council to comment on a suite of Hurricane Sandy rebuilding bills up for legislation.
With funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2014, NYC-EJA partnered with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Pollution Prevention Institute for a two-year project that builds on the work begun under the NYSHealth grant. NYC‐EJA will use the resulting research to generate replicable mitigation strategies for other similarly situated communities.