August 04, 2016
Contact: Brooke Havlik

Statement on North River Wastewater Treatment Plant Renovations


In response to the recent announcement that $360 million will be provided for upgrades to the North River Wastewater Treatment plant, WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Executive Director, Peggy Shepard, has released the following statement:

“The recent announcement is a welcome resolution to another chapter in the long running North River saga. The 2011 fire caused community consternation and citywide concern that hundreds of gallons of raw sewage were rushing into the Hudson River for several days. WE ACT for Environmental Justice hopes that this upgrade will increase energy efficiency at the plant, and end the plant’s emissions of formaldehyde and air pollutants that are worsened by its aging infrastructure.

WE ACT is less heartened by the lack of serious penalties ($150,000) levied by the state on the NYC DEP-run facility. Since it began its operations in 1986, the plant has plagued the West Harlem community with exceedances of air toxics and emissions. As a result of a WE ACT vs. NYC DEP lawsuit in December 1993, the city settled and committed $55 million to fix the plant, which was negatively impacting the respiratory health of nearby residents and families.

WE ACT is pleased at North River’s potential to reduce air emissions and become more energy efficient; however, the state should seriously consider the impact on local residents over long periods of time when assessing penalties to facilities that are not well run or maintained.”


WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan community-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that low-income people of color participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. Learn more at