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New York’s Toxic Wasteland: America’s Water Crisis (Part 1/3)


EMERSON ROSENTHAL: New York
City’s full of shit– real shit, 27 billion gallons
of shit that get dumped into the Hudson River every year. And that’s billions, with a b. Even though the city pipes in
crystal-clear drinking water from a collection of reservoirs
up north, the waters that New Yorkers see
and smell every day are a toxic nightmare. Oil spills, PCBs, rotting
corpses, human feces, and 15 feet of something called “black
mayonnaise” are just a few of the pristine features
Mayor Bloomberg isn’t bragging about. We’re dipping our toes in and
testing the waters for ourselves to see how the
toxicity of the Hudson River has become the norm for
America’s urban waterways. Welcome to “Toxic.” All right, I’m getting out. I’m going to take this sample,
make my way out of here. All right, so that was it. Hudson River swim. Fucking disgusting. TRACY BROWN: New York City
wouldn’t be New York City if it wasn’t for the
Hudson River. The fact that it is on the river
and surrounded by water is what defines the city and
gives it its character. One of the lingering problems
we still have to address is sewage pollution. -In the early development of New
York City, wetlands were considered wastelands. And they were basically filled
in with garbage to create solid land. TRACY BROWN: Where you have
older cities, like New York City, and Albany, and Yonkers,
where they used to build the wastewater infrastructure
where the sewage and the stormwater went through
the same pipe. So when too much rain happened,
it would overwhelm those pipes, and they didn’t
want all that rain and stormwater to go to their sewage
treatment plant and overwhelm the sewage treatment
plant or back up into people’s houses, so they just
bypass it directly into their local waterway. And that’s what happens in New
York City when it rains. That’s what happens in other
cities around the country. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: The River
Project has been systematically testing the
bacterial content of the Hudson River for years now. So we took our sample to their
lab to evaluate it for bacterial content that signifies
the presence of fecal matter in the river. -Hello. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: Hello. -This is Nina. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: Hi
Nina, I’m Emerson. I’m here from Vice. I was swimming in it. -OK. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: I cut my foot
on some rocks on the way. Do you think that’s
a bad thing? -Did you wash it out? EMERSON ROSENTHAL: Not yet. -You should probably
go wash it out. -You should. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: OK,
I’ll take care of that as soon as possible. All right. -And then you leave it to
incubate for 24 hours at 41 degrees Celsius. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: Commercial
fishing on the Hudson was put to an end after the fish were
deemed too toxic for consumption. So after I cut my foot, I
started to worry that, I, too, like many of the poor, native
fish species, might end up jawless, three-eyed,
and sterile. The Atlantic tomcod has the
unique honor of being the first fish species to adapt
to PCBs, the toxic factory coolants GE poured generously
into the Hudson in the ’70s. Usually known to cause cancers
and deformations in the fish, some tomcod have adapted
to thrive in a PCB-rich environment and have since
evolved to survive in such a toxic world. CHRIS CHAMBERS: My particular
group studies the early life stages of marine fish. And we’re particularly
interested in how the environments and habitat affects
the survival and fitness of those animals. This is a typical tomcod
larva hatching. The head and eyes are
dark in hatching. Jaw is typically straight. Here’s some not so
nice baby fish. What you see here is a greatly
enlarged yolk sac. That’s the edema
I referred to. The jaw is malformed. The head has a bit
of a point to it. The eyes are not as dark. And the body tends be more
curved or not as straight. TRACY BROWN: There’s such
limited commercial fishing still allowed on the
Hudson based on the health of the fish. Commercial fishing, as a way
of life, on the Hudson was destroyed and taken away because
of the pollution in the river and its effect
on the fish stock. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: The 14
wastewater treatment plants around the city process
1.3 billion gallons of raw sewage a day. That’s 15,000 gallons
per second. Before they were built, and for
most of the 20th century, all that sewage was just loaded
onto a boat and dumped 12 miles east of the
Jersey shore. Later, they decided to
dump further out– 106 miles instead. In 1991, somebody thought it
was a good idea to load all the sludge onto a train and send
it 2,000 miles to Sierra Blanca, a little town
in west Texas. New York State sent Texas
250 tons of sludge a day for over 10 years. NEVIN COHEN: Combined sewer
overflows were the last remaining uncontrolled form of
water pollution in cities. There are a few things
that a city can do. It can build holding tanks. It can actually enlarge
the sewer pipes. But those are really expensive,
and the alternative to gray infrastructure for CSOs
is green infrastructure. And that means building parks,
and gardens, and bioswales, and other permeable surfaces in
the city to both absorb and slow down the flow
of stormwater. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: All right. So yesterday, after my delicious
dip in the Hudson River, we took a water sample
and came here to the River Project, let our sample incubate
for 24 hours, and now we’re back to find out what was
really in the water I was swimming in. -If our MPN is below 30,
then that is a green light from the EPA. So you can basically
do whatever you’d like in the water. You can go swimming. If it is over 100 for the MPN,
you should be careful, whether you’re recreating in the water
But you definitely don’t want to get the water in your
face, in your eyes, or anything like that. 259 bacterial colonies. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: So not only
was the water I was swimming in above the EPA limits– which nobody had told me– it
was about 2.5 times above federal standards. -Yeah. -You definitely shouldn’t be
swimming in the water. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: Shouldn’t
have done that? -No. I hope you didn’t swallow any. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: Me too. Tracy Brown and River Keepers’
Sewage Right to Know Act mandates that the public are
notified immediately when sewage is dumped into
the Hudson. But it’s almost too obvious that
public officials should warn the people when they’re
paddle boarding in a bunch of shit. But while Governor Cuomo signed
the act in August, it’s going to take at least until
May 2013, for provisions to take effect. TRACY BROWN: This is the new,
more dangerous pollutant. As people get back in the water,
sewage gets in the water, there’s less money for
testing, and there’s very few requirements to tell the public that you aren’t testing. I can tell you that New York
City was not supportive of the Sewage Right to Know Law. They worked hard in the
legislative process to water down the bill. And we hope that, now that it’s
passed, we’ll implement it in the way that it’s intended
to be implemented. I would say based on my
experience that it does not seem that the Bloomberg
administration is interested in letting people know about the
sewage problem around New York City– absolutely not, no. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: The
Environmental Protection Agency has forced New York
City to solve many of its water quality issues since the
days of hauling our sewage by train to Texas. But our test sample found that
even a mile or so upstream of Manhattan, the Hudson River
contained 2.5 times the legal limit of feces. And this isn’t only New
York City’s problem. Since 772 of America’s cities
were built with combined sewage systems, about 40 million
people living near urban waterways will be up shit
creek for years to come. -Some days are just
unforgettable– the birth of a child, your first day at school,
the day you fell in a giant sinkhole. EMERSON ROSENTHAL: So we’re
right outside of Gainesville. And this house right
here has a huge fucking hole in its backyard. Holy shit, it’s cold.

Yvette Parker

100 Comments

  1. i can't fucking believe you actually in that fucking disgusting shit water. gaw damn son

  2. Did that guy go swimming in the Hudson while wearing in a speedo? I have no problem with speedos, but to where those in a polluted body of water is a crime.

  3. I’m from Jersey City the city across from NYC and no one dares to touch that river water cuz you most def cut so many years off your life going into that water

  4. LMFAO😂😂😂😂😄😄😄😄 i can't stand stupid people we have to laugh at them. Theses comments had me laughing on the floor super funnie

  5. Dude wears a speedo and swims in the nastiest river in the country and he is worried about becoming sterile… We can only hope he is knocked out of the gene pool 😀

  6. 50% comments: retitling this video to be ____
    50% comments: how idiotic this guy was

  7. It's safer to fuck a smelly 20 year old prostitute than to swim in that water

  8. Just because you are a filthy cumdump who got barebacked by Vice Manager doesn’t make you a good journalist.

  9. Taco Bell feces enters there then

  10. Does one really need to be TOLD not to swim in the river? It's almost cliche by now that all the rivers in large cities are unusable…

  11. I live in NYC, born and raised. I imagine that there were a such thing of a renewable sea plant that grew wild in the water giving off a very powerful harmless chemical that would vaccinate the most powerful water pollution. Due to these sea plants, the darkest the water would get if the sewage system were to be too high and the water were surrounded by the city is a transparent dark teal color. And imagine the sea plants were to be in the bible and the function is that to protect the water and the sea creatures from any toxic. And imagine that all sea creatures living off of the plants and the plants cleans the sea creatures from harmful toxic that would harm us people.

  12. God forbid a private company dumped their sewage into the Hudson River…..They would be fined millions, forced to shut down and protests would be all over. But if a municipality throws billions of gallons of sewage waste into the Hudson its aceptable?

  13. I wish they would take a sample, put it through a household water filter, and then test it to see how much bacteria is in it.

  14. Video should be titled: Idiot human who vapes swims in toxic river like a dumbass.

  15. Why the fuck does Vice always have a reporter who looks like their favorite show is My Little Pony and their favorite pastime is playing Minecraft?

  16. WHY is this guy wear that banana hammock- dude this isn't fcking Europe!! Dude- I can't even watch the show now, christ. How could you, eeeew 😱😂

  17. no wonder some of the people in NY and new jersey are all crazy. there is shit in the water that'll turn a person who originally was an angel into a total demon

  18. Keep doing videos like these bro. Cause I have friends that swims in rivers around NY,NJ, and VA and I keep warning them, but am always the uncool one who rather watch them than join.. we need to start figuring out ways to help our community's and countries beautiful natural environment recover. Because this wont just help the animals it will help us in the long run. Wouldn't u all like to be able to enjoy ur rivers and animals with out fear or infection?… keep it up bro we need a change around the world. But its sucks that Pollution is right here in our back yards too…

  19. Clean water? "TOO EXPENSIVE!" I guess having the strongest military in the world in order to invade third world countries is more important.

  20. Come on. NO RAW sewer is pumped into the HUDSON, that is why you are swimming in it. in the days before 1990s, you would die doing that. The river was just a sewer system. Still, during heavy rain or flooding, the system get overwhelmed and all sewer gets into the open waters around the city. BUt that is once or twice a year. It used to be 365 days a year before the mid 1970s. Do NOT cry wolf or you make all the real alarms sound fake (like yours here)

  21. Why didn’t he take a shower after jumping in river? Did they get this kid off the street or something 🤷‍♂️

  22. Pollution is worst in India within 50 years all the rivers got polluted and farming's gone.

  23. Not in great the great West Yorkshire pal, we don’t live like peasants just like you New Yorkers do

  24. Rhapsody of blue gang. Omg. I am dying. Help. Clairnet payer here. I mean I just listened to the song instead of the video pof

  25. Can you please stop swearing? This makes the video utterly unsuitable for a class or for children. And regardless, it's utterly unprofessional.

  26. I will agree that the rivers of NYC are polluted. But come on, use proper sampling protocol. Don't use some stupid douche, swimming in the Hudson taking a bacti sample. He could have contaminated it with his millennial entitlement.

  27. I hate these public stunt vids. Educate the public, not sensationalize it. I prefer the NY Times videos because they actually get into the technical aspects. Explain what a combined sewage system is and how stormwater impacts it.

  28. If you guys don’t live in NY or the country I’ll say that the Hudson River is still bad but no where close to where it was decades ago. It’s a terrible idea to swim in there and you’re only allowed to maybe eat one fish or crab per year here in this area I live in. Even though it’s better off you don’t eat anything out of the river. It’s a good thing that it has gotten cleaner but there are other things in the water besides biohazards that can keep you out.

  29. Imagine if that bill gates toilet gets installed in even 1/2 the homes and businesses there.

  30. Everyone talking about the reporter but we’re just going to pass up that used condom at 5:12?

  31. 😂😂😂 american finds the faults in other countries but they are also shithole 🤣 poo country

  32. democrats will leave this generation a shithole because of their corruption and anti human policies they dont care about people and enviroment

  33. Is anyone over 21 at vice. Sheesh. Ridiculous. Nobody is gunna watch this

  34. The water looked like it's drinkable.
    I guess The saying looks don't matter is true.

  35. NY is a toxic shithole in more ways than one. It's no wonder everyone there is batshit crazy.

  36. It's 2019 and they still dump it in the Hudson. Wow america you should be ashamed

  37. 0:48 wtf is wrong with YouTube. This is the THIRD corpse I've seen in the last week on this app.

  38. After his swim in the river, he was deemed to be too toxic for consumption

  39. So BASICALLY you put yourself in DANGER by swimming in TOXIC water..

  40. P.S. That little "someone" who decided to send that sludge to Sierra Blanca was supported by Bernie Sanders… He also backed Vermont and other states to dump "low level" nuclear waste there..

  41. Many people know about #NewYork's #HudsonRiver crisis. To see this and hear this is SHOCKING. #PCBs
    New York is full of it and Florida is sinking into it.

  42. That is disgusting, how are they allowed to just dump all that crap in the Hudson river? Terrible standards,polluting the environment and they don't give a fck.Shame on the new york city officials responsible for allowing this to happen.

  43. Vice; propaganda arm of the socialist liberal regime. What a crock of shit this is.

  44. Stupid ass people talking too much about the fucking reporter their dulbass cant even understand the fucking message.

  45. The most polluted body of water in the United States is not the Hudson River. The most polluted and toxic body of water is located in Syracuse, NY. The Onondaga Lake is well known to be the most polluted and toxic body of water in the United States.

  46. Can’t believe that fucking white boy really jumped in the Hudson river? Hey come to Boston and jump in the Charles river 🙈😖🤢🤮

  47. Why does the people constructing the infrastructure have thought about a backup to not ruin the sea and waters for everyone else because they could add a filter to it.It rains so much in the uk and they still manage to control their wastewater and waste

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