Significant Maritime and Industrial Area in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, USA

Sandy warns: cumulative impacts from industries and polluting activities can become extremly serious. Environmental justice organizations, community-based groups, labor unions unite for reclaiming reparation


Significant Maritime Industrial Areas, or SMIA’s, are zones designed to encourage the clustering or concentration of heavy industrial and polluting infrastructure uses [1].

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Basic Data
NameSignificant Maritime and Industrial Area in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, USA
CountryUnited States of America
ProvinceNew York
SiteNew York
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Urban development conflicts
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Chemical industries
Ports and airport projects
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Industrial waste
Chemical products
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population120,000-140,000
Start Date01/01/1992
Relevant government actorsEPA, NY DEC, City of New York
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNYC-EJA, UPROSE, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, New York City Donors Collaborative, the Rand Corporation, and The LifeLine Group, NIEHS
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
OtherFlood waters washing over contaminated lands and rushing through industrial areas releases a host of chemicals into the community.
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of AlternativesNYC-EJA has worked to reform coastal zone management and has seen some success working to have the city consider climate change impacts and mandate vulnerability assessments.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.This is still a work in progress and it's difficult to determine the success since vulnerable communities are still living close to SMIAs and experiencing the impacts of this. There has been progress toward considering impacts to these populations when the city approves new development.
Sources and Materials

[5] NYC-EJA Hurricane Sandy Press Statement - October 29, 2012
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[1] Coastal Storms and Chemical Contamination: A Case for Human Health Risk Assessment for NYC SMIAs - Ankita Rathi 2012
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[2] Hurricane Sandy's Disproportionate Impact on NYC's Most Vulnerable Communities - NRDC November 15, 2012
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[3] Waterfront Justice Project - New York City Environmental Justice Alliance
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[4] UPROSE Uplifts Sunset Park - The Brooklyn Rail April 3, 2013
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[7] Erratic Weather Looms Above while Injustice Boils Below - February 18, 2013
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[8] Sunset Park: A Community on the Frontlines- Presentation by Elizabeth Yeampierre June 9, 2015
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Birnbaum joins community leaders at forum in Brooklyn- NIH Publication June 2015
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[9] Climate Justice Community Resiliency Center - UPROSE
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Maps of the 6 SMIA's in New York City
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The Environmental Justice Movement in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York
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UPROSE- organization website
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Sunset Park Brownfield Opportunity Area
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Other Documents

[6] Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda April 2013 Recovery from the ground up: Strategies for community-based resiliency in New York and New Jersey
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Sunset Park SMIA storm surge impacts
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SMIAs and Hurrican Storm Surge Zones
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Old operational power plant in Sunset Park Fueled by kerosene and gas, residents said that particulate air pollution in parts of Sunset Park is severe enough to turn a white lawn chair black with soot by nightfall.
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Sunset Park Brownfield Opportunity Area UPROSE was instrumental in the initial planning stages for Bush Terminal Piers Park. Our role consisted of advocating for a post-brownfield waterfront park in a community suffering from a severe lack of open space, a disproportionate amount of environmental burdens, and an utter absence of waterfront access.
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Meta Information
ContributorBernadette Grafton, [email protected] and Paul Mohai, [email protected] at University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update21/10/2015