New Yorkers were in for a strange surprise when some of the city’s streets seemed to suddenly begin to ooze green slime. But this is no Spongebob gag — and residents are completely baffled as to what the fluid might be.
The mysterious case of the green “ooze” first came to public attention via X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter, when one user posted a photo of what appeared to be green slime coming out of a manhole.
“So there’s literal green sludge bubbling up from the ground next to World Trade Center right now,” wrote X user Dan Pantelo. Pantelo’s post, which went up on Nov. 2, 2023, has amassed more than 4.4 million views at the time of writing, prompting a litany of other X users to weigh in on this seemingly bizarre phenomenon.
Many users joked that the bright green puddles seemed like something out of a comic book, with Pantelo himself joking that New York had become “full blown Gotham.”
Other users joked that it was time to “call Ghostbusters” and that the bubbling green ooze looked “radioactive.”
Of course, many New Yorkers, presumably accustomed to seeing weird things on the street everyday, also just walked past the puddles of green ooze as if it were just any other day in the Big Apple, according to observations by Insider.
“Knowing New York, stuff happens. Weird stuff happens,” said 17-year-old Diego. “People just walk by and don’t pay attention to it… I guess it’s just like the waste coming out of the sewers.”
Some non-New Yorkers, on the other hand, were a bit more concerned about the green liquid — and surprised that locals weren’t.
“If we saw a green substance on the ground, we’d be very concerned,” said Richard Johnston, a Texan visiting New York with his wife Shayla. Johnston noted that the green liquid looked like “Freon,” and said that he has no idea what it could be.
“But it’s definitely not good, whatever it is.”
So far, it seems that no one has been able to identify the origins of the green slime, nor its purpose. Insider reached out the the New York State Department of Environmental Protection, who then directed the publication to Con Edison and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A Con Ed representative only confirmed that Con Ed’s equipment was not the source of the fluid.
Giovanni Marin, an employee at O’Hara’s restaurant and pub, told Insider that he assumed the liquid was related to a sprinkler test being conducted at the nearby Cloud One Hotel — only for Cloud One manager Michael Black to say the hotel was not undergoing any sprinkler tests, nor were they aware of the green sludge.
X users added additional context to Pantelo’s original post via the “Community Notes” feature — Elon Musk’s tool for fact-checking in lieu of a moderation team.
The Community Note reads: “This is water full of green dye. Plumbers frequently use harmless, fluorescent green dye to detect leaks in plumbing and sewage systems.” The note also links to a Wikipedia article on dye tracing.
It should be noted, however, that X’s Community Notes feature has received backlash for contributing to the spread of disinformation. A Wired report acknowledged that while Musk and X CEO Linda Yaccarino tout Community Notes as a powerful tool for fact checking, it has in many cases only made the platform’s disinformation problems worse.
All this is to say that, just because X users believe the green ooze might be harmless fluorescent dye used by plumbers, this information is still factually unconfirmed.
The mystery remains unsolved, though it is reminiscent of a strangely similar incident that Gothamist reported on back in 2017, when an equally mysterious green substance drifted through Midtown.
Gothamist concluded that the substance was likely antifreeze. A few months later, they released another report that green ooze had been found at the 34th Street-Herald Square subway station. This time, however, it really was just green dye.
And in March of this year, another similar incident occurred at the entrance of the Seventh Avenue subway station in Prospect Heights. Once again, people theorized about dye tracing, antifreeze, and the possibility of supernatural phenomena.
The latter claim was vehemently denied.
“Unfortunately, [there were no] reports of anyone gaining superpowers and/or any teenagers becoming sword-wielding turtles. I haven’t heard any news of any particle accelerator explosions or lightning storms,” a spokesperson from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority told the New York Post.
Whatever the green liquid may be, one piece of advice applies: Don’t touch it.
This article is a repost by ATI: