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June 20, 2006

Summer Scents, Nausea Included

2006_06-20-06 01.jpg

There is one fail-safe way to detect summer in on our street: Stench. While heat and humidity can bring about foul smells across any area of the city, my nose has never witnessed such putrid wafts of air. There are pockets of Van Brunt Street whose scents could only be rivaled by crawling up a dead elephant�s ass during a heat wave.

I am not the only one who has noticed this. Common conversations-- had and heard-- play out as follows:

At the local bar:How ya doin�? Fine, except for the STENCH!
At the bus stop:Damn, yo. What is that SMELL?
Random passerby:I thought something died last week. Maybe it did and it is still here. At least in stinky spirit.

Some of it must be rotting garbage. The deli near our bus stop had a nice pile going over the weekend and Alexis detected some nice, ripe, furry slime oozing out of one of the bags. This is no way covers the extent of the smell, though. Sometimes it comes in with the breeze. Sometimes it seems like it is coming out of the sidewalk. Whatever it is, the smell is inexplicably bad. It is also making its way in through our bedroom window.

Posted by callalillie at June 20, 2006 7:20 AM | Red Hook , WTF?


There supposedly is a factory, around Commerce St. (?) that dumps 'fish byproducts' (including squid entrails) in our sewers, it is an old theory though and the DEP is long since immune to the wafting. Maybe ask that group of women in Wellingtons who run out to buy their coffee around there -- I bet what they wade through is not very pleasant.

If that theory fails, there are always the Canal trucks (amongst others), only their depot(end of King St) will apparently soon to fall victim to the overly sensitive noses at the cruise terminal, i.e. the city bought them out.

Find John Magettrick(sp) he has all the answers.

Posted by: Jonathan at June 20, 2006 10:41 AM

I think the fish byproducts theory makes a lot of sense-- more times than not it smells like it is coming from the sewers. Last year I thought it was because they were ripping the sewers up-- it could very well have been, in regard to exposing the sludge more to the human nose. How disgusting.

Posted by: corie at June 20, 2006 10:43 AM

In my ten years in RH the smell has always been around, in all seasons, and it seems worse in the vicinity of the new traffic light.

Maybe it will save us as an anti-gentrification force field? Ooops, too late.

Posted by: Jonathan at June 20, 2006 11:05 AM

I had the same problem when I lived back home (Smalltown MN). We lived across the river from the sewage plant. The air was absolutely impossible to breathe when the breeze came from the sewage plant over to our side.

Now? I deal with the smell of the sewer through every sewage vent in the city everyday. Heh. I do love the city, though, in spite of the sewage stench. :)

Posted by: Lily Bleu at June 20, 2006 1:47 PM

When I grew up in Brooklyn, there were relatively few people living in Red Hook. It was a pretty industrial area. The Gowanus Canal regularly was so toxic that it would catch fire and there were dozens of chemical and petrochemical plants all over that section of Brooklyn.

As a child, I remember Red Hook smelling a lot like that body of "water" that runs under the Kosciusko Bridge known as Newtown Creek. I remember the smell vividly. There was a glue factory on the LIC side of the Greenpoint Ave Bridge that we referred to as "Gluey the Glue Worker" when we were kids. So I know the smell you refer to.

Anyway, between the petrochemicals in the "waters" surrounding Red Hook and all the dead bodies from Mafia hits, it's no wonder the place has an aroma. One of the major reasons I left Bklyn in 1978.

Good luck

Posted by: jeb at June 20, 2006 11:07 PM

The city bought out Canal?!?!?

Wow, that's news! Although not surprising. The morning of the first QM2 visit, two of the guys from Canal got into a good natured garbage throwing fight on the corner. They got yelled at by their boss. heehee

Posted by: anonymous at June 21, 2006 6:09 PM

Did the city really buy out Canal? That would be awesome, but I think I would have heard about it. This is what the businesses fear the most, the new hipsters and tourists complaining about the by-products of industry. Ergo, the IBZ movement. I think that there are ways to co-exist. The stench has been around since I have been here but it would be nice to see it go!

Posted by: Red Hooker at June 21, 2006 7:12 PM

I also heard the Canal news at the cruise terminal on the morning of the first QM II visit, from a relator who lives in the neighborhood.

It could just be that they will be relocating eventually, I cannot remember exactly what she said.

Posted by: Jonathan at June 22, 2006 9:51 AM

I've been here since 1981 when my landlord paid me to give up my loft and I bought my first house. Conover St and Wolcott, where Heartshare built their headquarters and school, has always stunk. The smell comes out of the sewers, and I always speed up when I drive over it.

Posted by: Mariel at June 22, 2006 7:11 PM

I've pretty much dropped the blog, but I want to weigh in on the stench. We had some serious stench problems today at our place. It was enough of a problem that the DEP and the NYPD were out to check it. DEP opened the drain cover and showed myself and another guy the sewage with the 'fish by-products'. From what I could see it was mostly scaly fish-skins and some entrails. (It was not a great morning.) The word from DEP was to get to the Community Board meeting, lodge a complaint. I'm not sure where the business that's dumping the fish products is though. My guess is either on Commerce or Sebring. If anyone knows which business it is, please post it.

Apparently there are no more CB6 meetings for the summer, so I think making a call or an e-mail are the only options. Try e-mailing or checking the website www.brooklyncb6.org

Posted by: redhooky at June 23, 2006 5:42 PM

Maybe we should take a branch of the nice smelling Gardenia tree on the corner of King and Van Brunt and plant it on your corner.

Posted by: Genevieve de Gaillande at June 26, 2006 1:54 PM

The smell in Red Hook has been the same even after returning 10 years later. I enjoyed my childhood in RED hook and the smell was just there in the air.

Posted by: Pat at June 30, 2006 2:48 PM


Posted by: Pat at June 30, 2006 2:49 PM

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