Howard Beach relief: new air compressor in Shellbank Basin will end foul-smelling fish kills The city Department of Environmental Protection has completed the Shellbank Basin Destratification Facility in Howard Beach, Queens, to improve water quality and curb odors in Shellbank Basin, a tributary of Jamaica Bay. Howard Beach residents, plagued by the odor of stagnant water and dead fish during the summer, are finally free to inhale. The city Department of Environmental Protection has recently completed work on the $3.5 million Shellbank Basin Destratification Facility, a boxy structure that houses an air-compressor station. The compressor will mix air bubbles into the water, providing more oxygen for fish in the basin, a tributary of Jamaica Bay. “It would happen once or twice a summer where you would have water stratification and get a bunch of dead fish,” said Betty Branton, the chairwoman of Community Board 10 who lives near the basin. “We had one incident in 2008 that was horrendous. There were dead fish all over the place.” The stench has been a constant complaint by constituents to state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park). A smaller, temporary facility had been operating near the basin with mixed results. “It was inadequate for the area and for the space of the basin,” said Addabbo. “When it didn’t work, we really paid the price.” On hot humid days, the smell was overwhelming, he said. “You’d be driving along Cross Bay Blvd. and you’d think there was a landfill next to you,” Addabbo said. According to DEP officials, the hot summer weather would sometimes cause the basin to “turn over,” forcing water to the surface with little oxygen. That condition can kill fish, creating a smelly problem that is also bad for the local ecology. Agency officials said the new facility features two compressors, guaranteeing one unit will always be on standby. They will pump compressed air through 3,800 feet of perforated tubing placed along 2,000 feet of the basin floor. “This is another bit of good news for New Yorkers who love Jamaica Bay,” said Dep Commissioner Carter Strickland. “Living near the water is great, but not when it is so stagnant that it creates unwelcome odors.” Braton said local residents are hopeful the new facility will have a better track record than the old one. “We’re hoping it will work all the time and we won’t have this condition again,” she said.