NEW YORK - Department of Environmental Protection officials were in the hot seat on Wednesday, defending their actions after the sewage spill in South Ozone Park. But many of the affected homeowners, who are still living in hotels, say that the city’s response to the spill has been far too slow.
The spill was caused by a clogged pipe that sent a flood of raw sewage into 124 homes, and affected residents are criticizing the city for its response to the spill and the speed of the clean-up afterwards.
At a meeting on Wednesday, members of the New York City Council asked DEP officials why it took more 12 hours for crews to show up to address the problem, with DEP officials saying 3-1-1 operators were slow to realize the extent of the problem.
DEP commissioner Vincent Sapienza also apologized for an earlier statement that cooking grease was the culprit for the spill, a claim that many in the neighborhood found racist.
Residents affected by the spill had been told that the Comptroller’s Office cannot release any funds for damages until an exact cause of the spill was found however a possible workaround floated on Wednesday would use the Mayor’s Fund, the same way it was used for victims of Superstorm Sandy.