FOR RELEASE April 23, 2013
Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund Clean-up. Invites Local Residents to Submit Comments on Proposed Clean-up of the Polluted Canal and Announces the Launch of the CAG Website
BROOKLYN, NY — The Gowanus Canal industrial district is bounded by the neighborhoods of Gowanus, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook. For the past 150 years, the canal has been the receiving waterway for sewage outflow, urban storm water runoff, and industrial discharges. The state of the canal is a severely degraded urban waterway and a source of pollution which is being flushed out into the NY Harbor.
In March 2009 NY State invited the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess the canal for eligibility to the Federal Superfund Program. Preliminary testing revealed high levels of pollutants which qualified the canal for the Superfund Program. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. The contamination poses a threat to human health, especially local residents and those who use the canal for fishing and recreation. On March 2, 2010, after a required public comment period in which the EPA received an overwhelming community endorsement for the Superfund listing, the EPA added the Gowanus Canal to the Federal Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). The listing brings federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERLA) law to the Gowanus.
During 2010 the EPA conducted an extensive remedial investigation that defined the nature, sources, and extent of the contamination and issues. In 2011 the EPA issued a Feasibility Study (FS) that depicted the possible solutions for the remediation of the canal. In 2012 the Community Advisory Group (CAG) had an independent technical advisor, Skeo Solutions, prepare a summary of the FS report to help the community better understand the Feasibility Study Report.
On December 27, 2012, EPA released the Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP) for the Gowanus Canal. The proposed plan includes controls to prevent raw sewage overflows and other land-based sources of contamination from compromising the cleanup. The cost of the cleanup, which is expected to be between $467 and $504 million, will be paid by the Responsible Parties identified by the EPA.
Many Superfund sites around the country have Community Advisory Groups (CAGs) that advise the EPA. The Gowanus Canal CAG is the largest in the United States and is made up of over 50 representatives from civic, environmental, business and community organizations as well as individual citizen-members who are stakeholders in the community around the Gowanus Canal impacted by the Superfund work.
The CAG encourages local residents to learn more about the EPA’s proposal, to attend futureCAG meetings and to submit comments by the deadline. To read the Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP), see video of the EPA’s presentations to community members, submit comments about the proposed clean-up directly to the US EPA (due by April 27, 2013 deadline) or to learn about future CAG meetings and how the clean-up will progress, please go to the CAG’s recently launched website: www.GowanusCAG.org.