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Riverkeeper Submits Comments on Cleanup of Gowanus Canal


Contact: Tina Posterli, [email protected], 914-478-4501 x239

Supports EPA’s proposed plan that includes reduction of CSOs

OSSINING, NY – May 1, 2013 – Riverkeeper has submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of its comprehensive plan to remediate the Gowanus Canal Superfund site. The plan will address the impacts of more than 150 years of pollution and concerns raised by Riverkeeper from its history of patrolling the polluted canal.

“The EPA’s plan marks an important step forward by calling for a comprehensive cleanup approach that includes removal of the toxic layer of soft sediment from the entire canal, and measures to address ongoing sources of pollution including CSO retention for two of the Gowanus Canal’s worst outfalls,” said Josh Verleun, Riverkeeper Staff Attorney and Chief Investigator. “As a member of the Community Advisory Group (CAG) for the Gowanus Canal, we have been pleased with the EPA’s transparency and engagement with the community and look forward to working with the agency as crucial details of the cleanup are designed and implemented in the coming years.”

While the EPA’s plan addresses the critical need to protect the environment and long term viability of the cleanup by mandating the control of toxic chemicals and solids which are contained in the CSO discharges, many details will not be solidified until New York City submits its CSO Long Term Control Plan in 2015. It is imperative for the EPA to remain committed to requiring significant CSO reductions, and working with New York State DEC, and New York City toward the eventual goal of 100% elimination of CSOs from the canal.

The EPA’s plan also addresses other “upland sources” of contamination that continue to leach pollution into the canal. Three former Manufactured Gas Plant sites, numerous unpermitted pipes, and other contaminated parcels of property all contribute. Riverkeeper’s comments also supported the EPA’s stated commitment to prevent these toxic discharges from continuing and coordinating with land-based cleanups being supervised by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Riverkeeper does not support the option the EPA presented to dispose of the least contaminated Canal sediment in a facility to be built in Red Hook.

Riverkeeper has been pushing for a cleanup of the Gowanus Canal for years, and has been actively involved with the Superfund site since the canal was nominated for inclusion on the National Priorities List in 2009. In addition, Riverkeeper’s water quality testing program conducts regular sampling of the Gowanus Canal and its Gowanus Canal Pollution Enforcement Initiative has worked with federal, state, and local agencies to bring environmental law breakers to justice.

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