The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week issued its report on an audit it conducted of the timing of the construction of the combined sewer overflow (CSO) tanks required by the EPA as part of the Gowanus Canal Superfund remedy. The OIG undertook the audit “in response to an OIG Hotline complaint and congressional interest,” according to the report.

The audit concludes that the construction of the CSO tanks has been delayed by about six-and-a-half years, and cites a number of factors for the delay, including disagreements between New York City and the EPA about tank design and siting, the time required to acquire private land, the city’s pursuit of an alternate retention system, and historic preservation issues. While the audit mostly assigns blame for the delay to the city, it also cites EPA’s failure to more forcefully compel the city to abide by its administrative orders.

The OIG recommends that EPA closely monitor the construction of the tanks, and take decisive action if the city misses any future milestones in the construction process.

You can find links to the OIG’s full audit, an abridged summary, and a podcast version, here:

Please join us for our March 2024 General Meeting, on Tuesday, March 26, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., conducted via Zoom video conference.

In order to join the meeting, you must pre-register, here:–opz4qHtdZCUy7nBW7whc8rzkPBxPT

DRAFT AGENDA (all times are approximate)

6:30 – 6:45 p.m.: Welcome and CAG Member Introductions

6:45 – 7:45 p.m.: EPA Updates and CAG Q&A

7:45 – 8:00 p.m.: Public Comment/Questions

8:00 – 8:30 p.m.: CAG Business and Committee Updates

  • CAG Working Group
  • Administrative Committee
  • Archaeology and Historic Preservation Committee
  • Land Use Committee
  • Outreach Committee
  • Water Quality/Technical Committee
  • CAG Working Group

8:30 p.m.: Adjourn

8:35 p.m.: Prospective Members Interviews (CAG members only)

Guests are always welcome to comment and ask questions using the chat function.

All Gowanus CAG meetings are open to the public, unless specifically noted otherwise.

The Admin Committee met via zoom on March 14th to review two new applications for membership in the CAG. The applicants are Daniel Pecoraro and Donald Minerva.

The Admin Committee voted unanimously to send Daniel Pecoraro’s application forward so that he can be interviewed by the full CAG at a general meeting.

The Admin Committee also decided to contact Donald Minerva to give him the opportunity to add more details to his application. The committee members want to make sure that he understands the mission of the CAG.  

Joan Salome-Rodriguez, Jerry Armer, Louis Kleinman, and Katia Kelly attended the meeting and quorum was achieved.

Public Comment Period Runs Until April 15, 2024

The Gowanus Canal Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council, comprised of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and the United States Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), have released the draft Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan (NRDA) for the Gowanus Canal, which “describes the Trustees’ proposed approach to conducting the NRDA, summarizes existing data, and outlines potential analyses and studies that may be used to evaluate contaminants and their effects on Gowanus Canal natural resources and resource services.”

The plan will guide the Trustees in seeking monetary damages from the potentially responsible parties (PRPs, the entities held liable for the contamination of the canal) for the restoration of natural resources and resource services resulting from the contamination of the canal, and compensating the public for interim losses until restoration. The plan describes the Trustees’ “proposed approach to conducting the
NRDA, summarizes existing data, and outlines potential analyses and studies that may be used to evaluate contaminants and their effects on Gowanus Canal.”

You can download a copy of the draft Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan here, and a copy of the pre-assessment screen, prepared in December 2014, here. A hard copy of the plan is also available for review at the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, at 431 6th Avenue.

You can submit your comments on the plan through April 15, 2024, to:

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Natural Resource Damages Section
c/o Alicia Pasos
625 Broadway, 14th Floor
Albany, NY 12233

You can read the letter from the Trustees announcing the publication of the draft NRDA here.

USEPA Region 2 provided us with the following update on the status of the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup on February 27 (edited slightly for elucidation).

In-Canal Work

Remedial Target Area (RTA) 1 (Top of the canal to 3rd Street)

  • The Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) are currently laying down the armor mat layer in the canal. They started this stage of the remediation in early November 2023. Mats are inspected for cracks or defects prior to placement and divers measure the spacing between mats. They have currently laid down approximately 132,455 square feet of mats to date (approximately 75% of the total).
  • We expect mat placement to continue until March 2024, followed by subsequent material. Demobilization will occur sometime in May 2024.
  • After mat placement, grout is used to fill in the spaces between the mats. We have held off on placing grout in the top 275 feet of the canal due to a NAPL (non-aqueous phase liquid, a contaminant) issue and within 50 feet of the Carroll Street bridge until the repairs have been completed.
  • Once grout is placed at the head of the canal, the flushing tunnel will be turned back on.
  • The Trust (Gowanus Canal Environmental Remediation Trust established by the PRPs to perform cleanup work) has been conducting air and noise monitoring throughout. They have also been conducting movement and vibration monitoring.
  • We haven’t had any major issues with dissolved oxygen (DO) since the weather cooled off. Still monitoring as significant weather events can also influence the DO.
  • NAPL sheens and blebs have been spotted near the head of the canal
    • From what we see so far visually, it appears that the NAPL seems to be on the surface and that the cap is intact.
    • We don’t yet have results back from the analytical samples that were taken in the vicinity to determine the source of the NAPL.

RTA2 (3rd Street to 9th Street)

  • We are working on the design for the next section of the canal (RTA2) and the 3rd Street Bridge, 4th Street Turning Basin, and 5th Street Turning Basin (3/4/5 Area). RTA2 will be similar in design to RTA1 as it includes dredging, in-situ stabilization, and capping. 
  • We’re currently working with the Trust on the bulkhead designs for RTA2 and coordinating the remediation for all the various parcels and properties.
  • We do not have any updates on the status of the design for the Carroll Street Bridge repair. Design still being worked on.

Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Tanks

  • Installation of the perimeter slurry wall at the Red Hook CSO retention tank site on Nevins Street is ongoing. The work is approximately 40% complete and on schedule to be finished by late June/July 2024. In response to odor complaints, the City is constructing a tent over equipment that removes soil and debris from the slurry used in the perimeter wall and can create odors. The tent structure and fabric are in place, though some additional work is needed on the HVAC system in order for the tent to be fully functional. 
  • Asbestos abatement along with debris removal and disposal has begun at structures slated for demolition at the Owl’s Head tank site. Building demolitions are scheduled to begin later this spring.

Upland Sites

  • No new updates

On January 23, 2024, Pat Evangelista, Director of EPA Region 2’s Superfund and Emergency Management Division, sent the letter posted below in response to a resolution passed by the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group at its October 24, 2023 general meeting, which asked the EPA to assume responsibility for remediating the entirety of the former Citizens Manufactured Gas Plant site under the auspices of the Gowanus Superfund cleanup, due to the ongoing inability of National Grid and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to gain access to the site’s Parcel 4.

The Admin committee met briefly via zoom on February 1st to review Erica Eliason’s CAG application.

It was agreed that her application should be forwarded to the full CAG for an interview and vote.

Joan Salome-Rodriguez, Rita Miller and Katia Kelly attended the meeting and quorum was achieved.

(Louis Kleinman joined briefly at the beginning of the zoom to let us know that he was in favor of moving the application forward.) 

Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, in partnership with the offices of Representative Dan Goldman, Senator Andrew Gounardes, and Council Member Shahana Hanif, will host a community forum with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), New York State Department of Health (DOH), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the ongoing Brownfields Project. They will specifically be discussing the Soil Vapor Testing that is taking place. This forum is a space for those new to the Gowanus cleanup to come and ask their questions and learn more about the project. The community forum will be held on January 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Wyckoff Gardens Community Center, 280 Wyckoff St, Brooklyn 11217.

Please RSVP at

Contractors working under the supervision of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are in the process of installing the final components of the protective cap that will protect the Gowanus Canal from recontamination and restore the canal bed as an attractive habitat for marine life. You can read about this work, and other news, in the EPA’s Community Update #5, embedded below and available as a PDF here.

Para obtener una versión en español, haga clic aquí.