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EPA Gives Seven Options For Gowanus Canal Cleanup

Submitted by Dan Hendrick on Thu, 2012-01-05 18:21.

The Environmental Protection Agency this week offered seven alternatives to clean up Gowanus Canal, a notoriously polluted stretch of water in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

The Gowanus Canal was added to the federal  Superfund list of highly contaminated sites in  2010.The Gowanus Canal was added to the federal Superfund list of highly contaminated sites in 2010. The New York Times reports that two scenarios appear to be the most viable: either dredging the soft  sediment and capping the canal bottom with layers of clay, sand and rocks; or dredging, but solidifying the remaining sediment on the bottom before capping it with the three layers.

The plans seem to be well received in the neighborhood, with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy expressing its support for the EPA's work. 

One point of contention has emerged, however. EPA is calling on the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to also fix the sewer systems that feed into the canal.

DEP makes a fair point that the most troublesome toxins originate not from the sewers but from former industrial sites, but EPA Administrator Judith Enck countered that "We don't want to require that hundreds of millions of dollars be spent when you still have these other contaminants."

EPA's study can be viewed at the Carroll Gardens Library at 396 Clinton St. in Brooklyn, or online at

The EPA also expect to hold a meeting to accept public input later this month. The exact date and time have not been set, but will appear on this page once they are.

Completed in 1869, the Gowanus Canal was once a major transportation route. Manufactured gas plants, paper mills, tanneries and chemical plants are among the many facilities that operated along the canal. As a result of years of discharges, stormwater runoff, sewer overflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation's most extensively contaminated water bodies.

NYLCV Blog | Filed Under: New York City

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