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The New York Waterway ferry service – the nation’s largest privately-owned commuter ferry company – has been dumping loads of human waste into the Hudson River for years, two former workers claim in federal court papers unsealed Friday.
The former employees, Rafi Khatchikian and Ivan Torres, made the claims in a whistleblower complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.
The suit charges that the NY Waterway, which operates a fleet of over 30 ferries carrying up to 30,000 passengers per day across the Hudson, “degraded local waterways through their cost-cutting and profit-enhancing practices of routinely, on a daily basis, discharging hundreds of gallons of raw sewage, oil, fuel, and coolant, as well as batteries, aluminum shavings, and other pollutants in the Hudson River, East River, Upper New York Bay, Lower New York Bay, and Raritan Bay.”
The ex-employees say in the court documents that the ferry service used “an unauthorized portable pump to illegally discharge hundreds of gallons of raw sewage (i.e., human waste) from a vessel’s restroom holding tank.”
On a routine basis, the NY Waterway discharges “sewage and garbage from aboard the ship into the Hudson River, primarily when docked at its two facilities on the New Jersey side of the river, but also by ‘running open’ when they traverse the Hudson River, East River, Upper New York Bay, Lower New York Bay, and Raritan Bay,” the suit claims.
The suit accuses NY Waterway of violating various environmental laws, including the federal Clean Water Act.
In 2016, Khatchikian, who worked as a fueler at NY Waterway maintenance docks from Sept. 2013 to Aug. 2017, filed his original complaint on the matter under seal.
Torres worked at the NY Waterway from the fall of 2011 until about Aug. 2015 as a mechanic and fueler at the company’s maintenance docks.
Both men “not only personally observed the improper discharge of pollutants alleged in this action, but [were] ordered and instructed by [their] superiors to engage in illegal pollution discharges,” the court documents say.
“Anything that goes into a toilet would come right out,” Khatchikian told the New York Times, which first reported on the complaint.
“It’s, like, blended when it comes out,” he said. “It looks like oatmeal.”
One time, after a large tour boat outing, Khatchikian told the news outlet that the pump dumped waste into the river for more than 45 minutes.
Torres told the Times that the practice was part of the reason why he quit the job.
“It was horrible,” said Torres. “You’d go home and go to sleep and your nostrils still smelled of it.”
A rep for NY Waterway did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Post Friday, but the company’s chairman Armand Pohan denied the allegations to the Times.
“We think it’s totally without merit,” Pohan said.
Additional reporting by David Meyer
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