“We are proud of what we do. We have seen the water get so much cleaner since the ’70s.”

sludge_boat never quit (1 of 1)

William Edgar, Captain, Marine Workers Local 2906 Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera

I love the water.

I grew up in the Bronx near Throggs Neck. There was a private beach with a lifeguard and teenagers used to all have boats.

My father and I fished on the grounds of SUNY Maritime College, where I ended up majoring in meteorology and oceanography.

I started working at the Dept. of Environmental Protection on Feb. 29, 1988. Getting a job with the city was one of the best things you could do at the time.

I have a very good job working in the harbor. I came in as a Mariner and worked my way up to 3rd Mate and was promoted to Captain.

The Captain is responsible for the whole ship. I pilot the ship.

I work with some very great people. The crew has a Captain, a Mate, two Mariners, a Chief Engineer and an Assistant Engineer. We all get along well.

There are five ships in service. Being able to maneuver these ships can be very challenging, but I really enjoy being on a ship.

DEP’s marine section has around 70 people, including shore side. We have seven crews. We work one 14-hour day and two 13-hour days.

We are usually on the sludge vessel Red Hook.

We take sludge from plants that don’t have dewatering facilities to plants with dewatering facilities. The sludge gets put on trucks and trains and sent to landfills.

Originally, treated sewage from the plants was dumped in the ocean at a 12-mile site. That dump site later moved to a 106-mile site.

Congress wanted to stop all ocean dumping, so the city built watering plants and stopped all ocean dumping in 1992.

We are proud of what we do. We have seen the water get so much cleaner since the ’70s. Now people are using the water for jet-skiing, canoeing and kayaking.

It’s a lot of responsibility. This job is very rewarding.

— Gregory N. Heires

This originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Public Employee Press.

See the video below about the last voyage of S/V The Newtown Creek, which was one of the ships Captain Edgar had once commanded. It was sunk to become part of a diver’s reef in Florida.

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