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Residents of Brooklyn Celebrate “Essential” Cleanup of Gowanus Canal


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One day before the government shutdown, EPA Region II staff stood with residents of Brooklyn to reveal the much-awaited cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal, one of the most contaminated waterbodies in the nation. Riverkeeper supports the EPA’s plan, which will address 150 years of toxic pollution as well as ongoing sewer overflows that dump chemicals and untreated sewage into the canal.

The central theme of the press conference announcing this plan was community engagement and the fact that it wouldn’t be as comprehensive if it weren’t for the input of the Gowanus Community Advisory Group (CAG) of which Riverkeeper is a member, or the 1,800 comments received on the draft plan from concerned citizens. This historical event was a great day for the long neglected waterway and for the people of Brooklyn.

Yet less than 24 hours later, the federal government was forced to shut down, and just 36 out of 861 EPA Region II staff are now deemed “essential” and kept on duty to look out for the environment while the shutdown drags on, putting the brakes on the Gowanus cleanup for now. For Riverkeeper and community members whose passionate defense of the Gowanus helped bring this about, let’s hope the shutdown turns out to be only a sad footnote to a remarkable event.

Read about Riverkeeper’s history of advocating for a cleanup of the Gowanus Canal.

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