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Cleaning up Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal—the right way


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Following last year’s investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed cleanup options for the Gowanus Canal that would finally give Brooklyn residents their waterway back. The two primary options proposed include dredging as much as 10 feet of highly contaminated muck and capping the canal floor to prevent any contamination from escaping deeper layers of sediment. Critically, any cleanup will include stopping sewage pollution from New York City pipes, and preventing underground plumes of toxic contaminants from flowing into the canal along with groundwater.

Riverkeeper is still reviewing the EPA’s feasibility study, but we’re pleased with the direction that the EPA is taking, particularly that it addresses ongoing sources of pollution, and not just historic pollution from the dozens of potentially responsible parties. As the planning process continues toward a cleanup over the next several years, Riverkeeper will also be paying close attention to plans for disposing of contaminated sediment, and restoring habitat in the canal.

We encourage our members to join Riverkeeper at one of two upcoming public meetings on the EPA’s cleanup feasibility study, the final version of which will be the blueprint for a cleanup plan.

Jan. 24, 7 p.m. Public Meeting hosted by EPA at P.S. 58, 330 Smith Street, Brooklyn
Jan. 30, 6 p.m. Community Advisory Group meeting. (Public is invited, but space is limited; RSVP to [email protected] for location.)

Riverkeeper has been actively pushing for a cleanup of the Gowanus Canal for years, and was instrumental in getting the Newtown Creek, another highly polluted Brooklyn waterbody, listed for federal Superfund cleanup. Together, these cleanups will provide unprecedented opportunities for people and wildlife in some of the nation’s most densely populated neighborhoods. Through routine water quality sampling, investigation and enforcement of polluters, Riverkeeper also extends its traditional patrol work on the Hudson to these and other tributaries.

Support Riverkeeper’s work in Brooklyn by becoming a member today.

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