News & Culture in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Points Nearby
March 7, 2021
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News + Views

Gowanus Cleanup Controversy

By Lisa M. Collins
Gowanus Canal Oil Art Int

Gowanus Canal oil slick as fine art, by Photographer Joshua Kristal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published its plan to clean up the Gowanus canal, and there’s some controversy over how it’ll get done. Basically, toxic mud from the canal may get treated, and, possibly, stored permanently, in Red Hook, near the ball fields and Ikea and the sprawling Red Hook houses.

I wrote a story about the brewing battle over the cleanup for Gothamist.

EPA officials have said that their plan to store the toxic material in Red Hook would only happen if the community approved of the idea, and, in a public comment period that ended Saturday, it would appear that the community has loudly said, “No thank you,” in so many words. Walter Mugdan, in charge of Superfund cleanups in New York and New Jersey for the EPA, has said that the agency is listening to the public and has heard the outcry loud and clear.

The EPA will finalize its plan this summer and release a final plan by September. At that point, it’ll have to negotiate details with the 37 polluters — mainly, the city of New York and National Grid — on how the cleanup will get done and paid for. A significant element of the plan calls for the city to reduce the amount of sewage overflows that constantly run into the canal during rainstorms.

Dredging likely won’t begin until 2016, says Christos Tsiamis, project manager for the Gowanus Canal cleanup.

Stay tuned.

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