By Daniel Katzive
A huge mass of what looked like white blocks made its way up the Hudson River Friday afternoon, passing Riverside Park as the tide came. West Side Rag reader Joel Bernstein reached out to report there seemed to have been a major discharge of styrofoam into the river.
On closer examination, West Side Rag found it was not styrofoam at all, but rather chunks of foam that easily broke up when fished out of the water with a stick.
Contacted via Twitter, the Riverkeeper organization told WSR that its patrol boat captain John Lipscomb looked at our photos but had been unable to determine what it was. Riverkeeper told us though that on a previous occasion where similar foam chunks had been detected near the George Washington Bridge, the substance had been traced back to fire fighting exercises onshore that had allowed foam to escape into the river via storm drains. They emphasized that there could be numerous reasons for the foam blocks and cannot speculate on what is causing this particular occurrence.
WSR has also reached out to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and this article will be updated if the agency is able to provide any further information.
Riverkeeper says members of the public can directly report unusual conditions they observe along the river on the Riverkeeper website: https://www.riverkeeper.org/get-involved/violations/
You would think someone in officialdom would have seen this too (or read your article) and arranged for a cleanup. Whatever it is and whatever it’s source it can’t be good for fish or humans. And I mean no criticism of the Fire Department. They do their exercises in order to protect us, but someone could have picked up a phone and called an agency to get this fixed.
I saw them yesterday while walking from 59th up along the river. Lots and lots of them! Please keep us posted as to what the heck they are.
Possibly chunks of an Antarctican glacier that have come all this way north? Unlikely, but you never know . . .
There are quite a few agencies in the area that could be practicing, or using… fire fighting foam. (The acronym is AFFF, for Aqueous Film Forming Foam), starting with the Port Authority, Con Ed, the NJ utilities, etc., etc. A key question is whether this is “new” formula or one of the older ones.
The latter often contain “forever chemicals”, namely PFAS, which are blamed for lots of horrors…
One alarmist article: https://www.ehn.org/what-are-pfas-2656619391/where-does-pfas-contamination-come-from