The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized their $508 million plan to remove over 150 years of polluted sediment, build up and industrial waste from the Gowanus Canal Superfund site.
Originally one of the city’s major industrial transportation routes in the mid-1800s, the Gowanus Canal was added to the U.S. Superfund list and named one of the nation’s most hazardous waste sites in 2010.
“The cleanup plan announced today by EPA will reverse the legacy of water pollution in the Gowanus,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The plan is a comprehensive, scientifically-sound roadmap to turn this urban waterway into a community asset once more.”
In order to remove roughly 588,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments, the cleanup crews will split the waterway into three segments from the mouth to the top, near Douglass Street.
The EPA has also called for a restoration and dredging of portions of the 1st Street turning basin and 5th street turning basins underneath the 3rd Street Bridge, which extends east 25 feet of the bridge.
“Remediating the Gowanus Canal will be good for our environment, the public health and our local economy,” said Congresswoman Nydia Valázquez. “Equally important, under Superfund, polluters will be the ones paying for removing these contaminants.”
“Going forward, we must ensure that the public remains involved and informed of the process,” Velázquez added.
Following the dredging process, the canal will get a multi-layer cap of clean materials, which will include an “active” layer of clay in order to remove contamination that could well up following the cleanup, an “isolation” layer of sand and gravel as well as an “armor” layer of stone to prevent erosion.
Highly contaminated materials and sediment will be treated at an off-site facility for decontamination with the possibility of reuse.