Two barges abandoned in Flushing Bay were removed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but not before they unloaded tons of materials into Flushing bay. The materials that drifted towards LaGuardia Airport comprised of tons of lumber, Styrofoam and other hazardous material debris, much of it coming ashore in close proximity to tarmac areas.
The perpetrators of this dumping are unknown, but the Port Authority had to respond quickly to the environmental and health problems caused by the dumping as well as the potential flight safety issues. Staff from LaGuardia Airport successfully navigated the perfect storm of challenges as they executed a carefully crafted plan to remove the hazardous debris that had drifted onto the shoreline of LGA’s Runway 13/3, one of the regions busiest runways.
The team from LGA Maintenance and Staff Engineering Maintenance and Construction – comprised of 50 members – managed to remove and properly discard waste material from the derelict barges and filled 10 30-yard containers, the equivalent of three football fields, all within a short 12-hour window. Time was limited, and the temperature rested in the triple digits, but the staffers were undeterred as they fanned out across the 1.5 miles of the shoreline, piloting cranes, dump trucks, pay loaders, flatbed trailers, and even using their bare hands, to remove all of the hazardous material on LGA’s coastline.
“We take our commitment to being a good neighbor and protecting the environment very seriously,” said Lysa Scully, LaGuardia Airport General Manager. “This commitment is evidenced by the determination of the LGA team to conduct the cleanup regardless of the record setting temperatures. Time and again, I am grateful and proud of the LGA team for demonstrating through their actions an effort that is based on the highest standards of our organization; they can be counted on to come through in any situation that may be encountered.”