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Riverkeeper Responds to EPA Investigation of Gowanus Canal

Gowanus Canal

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February 2, 2011


Contact: Tina Posterli, Riverkeeper, 516-526-9371, [email protected]

Riverkeeper has issued the following statement in response to the initial report EPA issued today confirming the widespread presence of numerous contaminants in the Gowanus Canal:

“Riverkeeper supports the EPA’s initial report on the Gowanus Canal Superfund site and commends the agency for the hard work and speed with which they completed this study and for clearly spelling out the degree of contamination and potential public health risks of this polluted waterway.

The EPA’s findings reaffirm the concerns raised by Riverkeeper since our patrols of the Canal began in 2006 and found widespread contamination, open dumping and continuing sewage discharges by New York City that have left the Gowanus severely polluted.

The EPA’s conclusions regarding the real health risk posed by consuming fish and crabs from the Canal must be acted upon immediately by state and federal regulators – the New York Department of Health and Environmental Conservation must prioritize the installation of fish advisory signs at public access points in Gowanus Bay near the Canal entrance and at street ends and other informal access points on the Canal itself. These warning signs should be in multiple languages, including English and Spanish, and should clearly identify the risks of eating fish and crabs from this waterway.

The report brings up another crucial finding in regard to CSO discharges as an ongoing source of contamination. This is particularly significant in that it highlights the importance of addressing CSOs in addition to dredging the sediment at the bottom of the canal for proper remediation of the waterway; an issue Riverkeeper is actively involved with.

As a member of the Community Action Advisory Group (CAG) for the Gowanus Canal, Riverkeeper believes that a transparent public process is critical to a successful Superfund cleanup. We arecommitted to working with EPA, state and local government and the local community to ensure that a comprehensive cleanup plan for the Gowanus is developed that addresses the Canal’s historic sources of pollution, impacts on aquatic life and the ongoing discharge of untreated sewage from New York City’s sewer system.”

To read EPA’s remedial investigation of the Gowanus Canal or for more information on the canal, go to:

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