NEW YORK, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- About 50 million gallons of partially treated sewage flows daily in the waters by a New York neighborhood two weeks after Superstorm Sandy hit, officials said.
Residents in the Rockaways area of Queens were told the problem likely won't be fixed until after Thanksgiving, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.
The partially treated sewage has been polluting Rockaways Inlet since the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in nearby Nassau County was damaged by the storm.
Adrienne Esposito of the non-profit Citizens Campaign for the Environment said the amount of partially treated sewage is closer to 65 million gallons. The sewage goes into Reynolds Channel, north of Long Island's Long Beach, and flows past the Rockaways as it feeds into the Atlantic Ocean.
"It's certainly the biggest environmental concern in the state of New York," Esposito told the Daily News. "They've already released over a billion gallons of raw or partially treated sewage."
Nassau County Public Works Department spokesman Mike Martino recognized the problem, but said the sewage water has been chlorinated and 70 percent of the solid waste had been removed.
A response team of federal, state and Nassau County workers are working "tirelessly to repair the sewage treatment plant as it was damaged by 9 feet of tidal waves from Hurricane Sandy," Martino said.
State Health Department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said health officials were discussing the situation with officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency "to determine how to address homes impacted by sewage from the Bay Park plant."