Verizon Employees: You Probably Should Have Told Us About The Toxic Levels of Benzene

UPDATE: Verizon says toxic plume isn’t its fault

Maybe there’s a reason Verizon employees are so confused lately. Maybe they’ve been poisoned. Brooklyn Papers is reporting that “Dangerously high levels of benzene — a gasoline byproduct that can cause cancer if it is inhaled — have seeped into the soil below the Third Avenue site where Whole Foods is building its first Brooklyn store.”

Verizon has a facility that is in the epicenter of the toxic plume. The employees are not happy about it, and their union has lodged a complaint. “The union, Local 109 of the Communication Workers of America, said Verizon may have violated state safety laws by not informing workers that benzene…was underneath their workplace.”

“Let’s say 10 years down the line we get sick and it can be attributed to the high benzene. What happens then?” asked Jasper Clarke, a field technician who has worked at the site for a decade. Verizon used the site as a fuel station and was responsible for 5 oil spills, but that’s not the source of the benzene, according to Verizon.

“In all likelihood, we are not the source of the problem,” said the spokesman, John Bonomo, adding that oil spills on the site had been cleaned in 2003.” Cool. It must be the benzene gnomes. Gowanus is known for them.—MEGHANN MARCO

‘Toxic’ worksite has Verizon employees fearing for lives [Brooklyn Papers]
Gowanus toxic plume targeting Park Slopers [Brooklyn Papers]