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Riverkeeper Provides Additional Insight into EPA Feasibility Study for Cleanup of Gowanus Canal


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

Member of the Gowanus Community Advisory Group and Technical/Water Quality sub-committee will comment at January 24th meeting about additional areas critical to providing a full-scale remediation

(Ossining, NY – January 23, 2012) – Riverkeeper commends the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) feasibility study as a good first step toward developing a remedy to clean the Gowanus Canal and will provide comments at tomorrow’s meeting about additional critical aspects that need to be considered in order to achieve a full-scale remediation of one of the most polluted waterways in the country.

“We’re encouraged that the preferred options EPA has set forward in its study will dredge a significant amount of contaminated sediment from the Gowanus,” said Josh Verleun, Riverkeeper Staff Attorney and Chief Investigator. “However, there are some key areas that need to be addressed thoroughly to ensure the success of this project, like a robust plan to halt toxic CSO and other upland source discharges and a plan to protect and restore Gowanus shoreline habitat. We look forward to working with EPA to make it happen.”

The EPA has identified controlling upland sources of pollution including New York City’s combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges as an integral part of all options being considered to clean the canal. However, with details yet to be released, it is critical that EPA develop a comprehensive approach, setting forth all options being considered to control these toxic pollutants while giving members of the community an opportunity to review and provide input.

An approach to cleaning the canal that restores the ecosystem as a whole is vitally important to the future of the Canal. The feasibility study details the need to stabilize the bulkheads and shoreline of the Gowanus Canal during remediation. It is essential for the EPA to work with partner federal and state agencies and stakeholders to develop a plan to restore shoreline habitat and create soft shorelines that foster vegetation, cleanse stormwater, improve public access and make the shoreline more attractive rather than create a clean, but sterile canal with steel bulkheads unfavorable to wildlife.

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.

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