EPA gives the community a say in Gowanus cleanup
by Andrew Pavia
Jan 29, 2013 | 1882 views | 0 0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The EPA met with community members to discuss the proposed cleanup for the Gowanus Canal.
The EPA met with community members to discuss the proposed cleanup for the Gowanus Canal.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave the public a chance to comment on its proposed cleanup of the Gowanus Canal at two public hearings last week.

Currently, the Gowanus Canal has more than a dozen contaminants, including heavy metals, mercury and lead. The major issue, however, is the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which have properties that can cause cancer and have harmful neurological effects on the body.

Project manager Christos Tsiamis went into detail about the plan at a Wednesday night meeting in Carroll Gardens. He said that the overall cost would range from $467 to $507 million and won’t be completed until roughly 2032.

However, he did say that the selection of a remedy and the plan itself will be finalized by this summer.

The money for the cleanup will be coming from those deemed responsible for the pollution, which include 20 different parties. The two main groups that will have to finance the Superfund cleanup, though, are National Grid and the City of New York.

The EPA has a proposed plan that would split the canal into three parts, isolating separate issues with the canal. Each area would be dredged, and in some cases the material will be treated and used again in the canal.

However, some of the dredged material will have to be taken to an offsite facility to be cleaned or discarded.

One community member who attended the meeting praised the EPA for being transparent throughout the process.

“I would like to thank the EPA,” she said. “This is really an example of why we need government to work well with the community.”

The woman had a building that flooded as a result of overflow from the canal during Hurricane Sandy. She asked what EPA will do to help prevent contaminants from flooding the neighborhood if a hurricane were to hit the area again during the decades-long cleanup.

“If we perceive that a larger storm is coming we will take all necessary actions to shut down activities and to secure the entire project site,” said an EPA representative.

Another resident requested that the EPA use barges to transport all harmful materials instead of using trucks that would likely cause traffic issues and health risks for residents.

“We have included in the plan that most transportation will be done by barge,” Tsiamis said, adding he would push the EPA to have all of the transportation of materials from the site done by water, which garnered a round of applause.

The public has until March 28 to submit comments or questions directly to the EPA regarding their proposed. 

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