Ali RosenOct 13, 2017, 6:18 pm

Agencies to ensure demolition of Tappan Zee Bridge does not impact Hudson River

Ice breakers of span are coated with chemical that could be harmful to humans in large amounts

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One week ago as the new Mario Cuomo Bridged open to motorists, the last cars traveled over the Tappan Zee Bridge, and now, its demolition is underway. But the process is a complicated one, as it could impact the Hudson River below.

The Tappan Zee Bridge, built in 1955, contains bundles of ice breakers at the foot of each of the bridge’s supports. They are wooden and coated in creosote to prevent rotting. Creosote is a chemical that could cause danger for humans if exposed to a large amount.

Tappan Zee Constructors worked with the Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies to make sure they have a plan in place to remove the chemical immediately from the Hudson as it is likely that it will leak during deconstruction.

The presence creosote in the river will create a visible sheen on top of the water. And on Sept. 13, the Piermont Fire Dept. and Rockland County Sheriff's Dept. responded to a reported sheen stretching from Piermont to the bridge. Tappan Zee Constructors Spokesperson Damien Lavera said:

"In an abundance of caution we immediately acted with those agencies to deploy additional containment booms on site and use absorbent material to get whatever was causing the sheen out of the River.”

Lavera explained that the sheen seen in Piermont could not have originated at the bridge, because on that day and at that time the tides and current were flowing north, and Piermont is about a mile south from the bridge.

Regardless of what was seen that day or what actions are being taken to remove the creosote, Riverkeeper continues to serve their watchdog role over the Hudson. Riverkeeper Patrol Boat Captain John Lipscomb says:

"Creosote is hazardous for the environment, and there are probably thousands of these piles. We want to make sure that as the old bridge is demolished, none of this material is lost into the river."

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