“‘It’s just like swimming through a dirty diaper,’ he told a crowd of reporters, residents of the nearby neighborhoods and incredulous passers-by who had gathered to see him off at the canal end of Degraw Street. Having some experience with dirty diapers, as well as with other, somewhat less filthy waterways, Mr. Swain had come prepared: His silver Nissan Pathfinder held a pair of black rubber fins, a yellow dry suit, a pair of black gloves, goggles and a green rubber swimming cap on which Mr. Swain had written, in black marker, ‘#HOPE.'”



Read the full New York Times story, by reporter Vivian Yee, here.

Public Meeting Scheduled for April 16; Comments Accepted through May 3

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP) to clean up contamination at the former Fulton Municipal Works site, adjacent to Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal. DEC will also host a public meeting on the proposed cleanup of the former manufactured gas plant (MGP) site on April 16, at 7 p.m. at the Wyckoff Gardens Community Center meeting room, 280 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn.

The Proposed Remedial Action Plan and Feasibility Study are available at www.fultonmgpsite.com, under Key Documents > Major Reports.

From the NYS DEC announcement:

The PRAP announced today applies to Operable Unit 1 (OU1) at the site, which includes the property on which the former MGP was located and neighboring properties where contamination is present east of the Gowanus Canal. The site is a principal source of contaminants to sediments in the upper Gowanus Canal. In addition, remedial investigations determined that coal tar from MGP operations at the site has spread in soils below the surface, including under a portion of Thomas Greene Park.

“The cleanup of the Gowanus Canal and adjacent properties is a collaborative effort among state, federal and city government and the private sector, to address sources of the contamination affecting the canal and nearby properties,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “This is another vital step to clean up the site and protect the canal, while minimizing disruptions to current community uses of these areas.”

Members of the public will have the opportunity to ask questions about the proposed cleanup plan, and provide comments, at the public meeting scheduled for April 16.  Written comments will also be accepted via mail or email through May 3, 2015. Comments may be submitted to:

Henry Willems
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Environmental Remediation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233

Additional information from DEC’s announcement:

The proposed cleanup plan would accommodate current site uses and future redevelopment, and also aligns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) remediation efforts to prevent recontamination of Gowanus Canal. National Grid, which formerly owned the site, will implement and pay for the cleanup. The primary components of the remedy are the construction of a sealed wall along the western shoreline of the Gowanus Canal and the removal of any coal tar that accumulates behind it. Excavation activities would occur in phases as properties are redeveloped and will not require closures or relocation of occupants or current site uses. Contamination at Thomas Greene Park is well below ground and site structures that prevent public exposure.

The PRAP is part of a multi-tiered approach DEC has taken to help clean up the Gowanus Canal and adjacent parcels. Under a Consent Order with DEC, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) recently completed an upgrade to the Gowanus sewage pumping station and is implementing green infrastructure projects that, together, reduce combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges to the Canal by 44 percent. NYC DEP reconstructed and activated the Gowanus Flushing Tunnel, which now circulates over 250 million gallons of higher quality harbor water through the Canal each day, leading to dramatic improvement in water quality. NYC DEP is also developing a CSO Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) to integrate both Clean Water and Superfund goals for the Canal. The LTCP, which DEP must submit to DEC for review in June, will identify actions to further reduce CSO discharges and improve water quality in the Canal.

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez will host a public community meeting on March 31 in conjunction with FEMA and the City of New York on changes to the National Flood Insurance Program and new preliminary flood insurance rate maps.

Learn about expanded flood insurance purchase requirements.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released draft maps to provide a better picture of flood hazards.  March 31, 2015 begins a 90-day public appeals process.

FEMA and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency and Housing Recovery Office will be present to answer questions.

Tuesday, March 31, 6:30 p.m.
Red Hook Miccio Center
110 West 9th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 (near Hamilton Avenue)

In cooperation with Congressman Jerrold Nadler
State Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Assembly Members Felix W. Ortiz and Jo Anne Simon
City Councilmembers Carlos Menchaca and Brad Lander

For more information, contact Congresswoman Velázquez’s Office at (718) 222-5819.

In conjunction with a ‘City Speaks’ forum on flooding and sewer backups that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is hosting with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection on March 11th, his office is fielding a survey for Brooklyn residents who’ve experience such events.  You can email completed surveys to programs@brooklynbp.nyc.gov or fax them to (718) 802-3881.

Phone Number:

Address of flooding or sewer back up:
Cross Streets:

1. How often does a sewer backup and/or flooding into your property and/or on your block occur?

2. Do you know what the major causes are for the clogged sewers/catch basins in your area?

3. Did your property or block experience sewer flooding after Hurricane Irene, “Superstorm Sandy” or during heavy rain storms?

4. Have you filed sewer backup and/or flooding complaints with DEP?

5. If so, how long does it take DEP to address it?

6. How much has it cost you to repair damage caused by flooding or sewer overflows?

The January meeting of the full Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) that was postponed due to the effects of winter storm Juno has been rescheduled for Tuesday, February 10th, at 6:30 p.m.  It will take place at Mary Star of the Sea, 41 1st Street, in Carroll Gardens.

The agenda is likely to include updates from the CAG’s committees, consideration of applications from – and a vote on the candidacies of – several prospective new CAG members, and a discussion of strategic-planning topics in preparation for the regularly scheduled February meeting, which will focus on the CAG’s future direction.

Due to the effects of the significant winter storm, the January meeting of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Committee that had been scheduled for tonight (January 27, 6:30 p.m.) has been postponed.


We’ll post a new date here once the meeting has been rescheduled.  Thank you for your understanding.