Gowanus Canal cleanup will officially kick off this year

January 29, 2020

Photo by bobistraveling on Flickr

The long-awaited cleanup of the Gowanus Canal officially has a start date. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday issued an administrative order requiring the start of the first phase of the project, 10 years after the agency declared it a Superfund site. Expected to begin in September and take 30 months to complete, the $125 million project covers the cleanup of the upper canal and the 1st Street turning basin and involves “full-scale dredging,” according to the agency.

“This order will ensure the remediation of a portion of the heavily-contaminated waterway, which is the centerpiece of a revitalized neighborhood,” Pete Lopez, EPA regional administrator, said in a press release. The order calls for Honeywell, Hess, National Grid, and the Brooklyn Improvement Companies to pick up the costs.

“By addressing Superfund sites in densely populated urban areas such as the Gowanus Canal, EPA is protecting public health and the environment while supporting Brooklyn’s continued economic redevelopment.”

Considered one of the country’s most polluted bodies of water, the Gowanus Canal’s sediment is full of hazardous contaminants due to manufacturing companies dumping toxic waste directly into the waterway since the mid-1800s. Plus, overflows from sewer systems from homes and storm drains continue to pollute the Canal. The EPA found more than a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, and heavy metals, at high levels in the sediment.

The first phase of the $500 million cleanup involves dredging and capping of the upper canal, deemed as Remediation Target Area (RTA) 1 and the former 1st Street turning basin, which had been used to deliver coal to a nearby electric generating station that had powered the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Authority subway system. The restored 1st Street turning street basin will act as the primary wetlands area for offsetting encroachment into the Canal, according to the agency.

“We are on an ambitious timeline for cleanup as compared to other Superfund sites throughout the nation,” Rep. Nydia Velázquez said. “Most importantly, we are cleaning up Gowanus the right way, in a manner respectful of community needs, and responsible parties are shouldering the cost.”

[Via NY Post]


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