Volume 21, Number 37 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 23 - 29, 2009

Downtown Express photo by Milo Hess

Downtown Express photo by Lorcan Otway

The downed plan near Pier 25 last Thursday and on Sunday when it was taken out of Battery Park City.

‘Miracle’ plane came Downtown

Battery Park City residents got a close look at the city’s top news story when the airplane that landed in the Hudson River last Thursday near Midtown floated downstream and ended up tied to Rockefeller Park. The miraculous outcome — all 155 people aboard US Airways Flight 1549 survived the plane’s descent into the Hudson after a flock of birds crippled the engines during takeoff — lent a cheerful air to the dozens of residents and tourists who came to Battery Park City to see what remained of the plane before a towering crane lifted it from the river on Sunday.

Some residents were less happy, though, with the pervasive smell of fuel that they said lingered in the air after Thursday’s accident and into the weekend. Tom Goodkind, who lives in Gateway Plaza, said the fumes were so bad Thursday night that his daughter could not sleep in her bedroom. Barry Skolnick, another Gateway resident, said a security guard in the World Financial Center told him the smell was so bad people almost passed out. “The fumes were overwhelming,” Skolnick said. “Why was there no communication?”

Lori Severino, spokesperson for the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation, said the plane spilled about 700 gallons of fuel in the Hudson. That may sound like a lot, but she said the fuel is light and biodegradable, so the D.E.C. did not plan to do any remediation. Seth Johnson, spokesperson for the Coast Guard, said the lingering diesel smell over the weekend may not have been caused by the spilled fuel at all, but rather by the phalanx of idling trucks and emergency command units that set up shop on the esplanade.

— Julie Shapiro




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