Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
41 1st Street, Brooklyn NY 11231, Mary Star of the Sea, Community Room


Report from Christos Tsiamis, EPA Project Manager for the Gowanus Canal Cleanup

A meeting was held between the EPA, Congresswoman Velazquez, and concerned community members on Tuesday, September 15th to address the location of the retention tanks in the northern section of the canal. The ROD suggests that the Thomas Greene Park and Douglas and Degraw Pool site are potential locations for the storm water retention tanks.

The meeting was attended by Congresswoman Velazquez, Dan Wiley, other elected officials including Council Members Lander and Levin and staff, Assemblywoman Simon, State Senator Montgomery, Sabine Aronowsky from the Friends of Thomas Greene Park, Michelle De La Uz from FAC, John Brown from Warren Street Houses, Theresa Davis from FUREE, Ed Tyree from Gowanus Houses, Craig Hammerman from Community Board 6, attorneys from the New York Lawyers in the Public Interest, Friends of NY Parks, Maria Pagano from the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, and Andrea Parker from the Gowanus Canal Conservancy. EPA administrators and the Gowanus EPA team were also present.

Representatives of Gowanus property owners also attended this meeting, distributing a letter communicating that if there was a discussion about their properties being involved in retention tank discussions, that they should have been included.

EPA reiterated its commitment to keeping all members of the community in mind when it comes to getting things done in the Gowanus neighborhood. The EPA has also made a commitment with regard to an accelerated timeline in getting the cleanup process done, and they intend to keep this promise and will make the decisions necessary. Balancing these considerations is an ongoing process. Read more »

Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
41 1st Street, Brooklyn NY 11231, Mary Star of the Sea, Community Room


Bayside has entered into a bulkhead repair order. Harrison Fuel has entered into an “ability to pay” settlement. Natalie will be presenting on “Gowanus Canal: A Study In Community Involvement” at an upcoming conference, where CAG member Joseph Alexiou will also present.

In terms of the EPA decision regarding the location of the storm water retention tanks, the timeline remains general: late summer/early fall is the current projected timeframe for a decision.

National Grid also encourages the public to visit the website www.gowanussuperfund.com [note: the CAG makes no representation as to the accuracy of information contained on the linked website] which has up-to-date information regarding design work in the canal. Read more »

Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
41 1st Street, Brooklyn NY 11231, Mary Star of the Sea, Community Room


Report from Christos Tsiamis, EPA Project Manager for the Gowanus Canal Cleanup

The EPA Pilot Study on the Canal ends on July 1, 2015.

EPA has met with National Grid and its contractors to advance the design for the remediation of the canal cleanup. The EPA has also met with NYC DEP’s Kevin Clark and his team. Both meetings were very productive. Design of the cap along the bottom of the canal and the in situ stabilization study for cleanup, which was applied at the 7th street basin and could be the basis for the rest of the remedy, is proceeding well.

In situ stabilization technology will keep the contaminants below the cap from de-stabilizing and overwhelming the cap that EPA will place along the bottom of the canal. The technology will help to prevent recontamination of canal waters from toxins leeching up from the sediment below. The technology must be studied before it is applied canal-wide, as it is not yet tested in these conditions and the correct concrete mixture must be identified. The in situ stabilization pilot effort has been very successful, and represents the first cleanup action for this part of the canal. The project is finishing on time.

Read more »

Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
41 1st Street, Brooklyn NY 11231, Mary Star of the Sea, Community Room


Report from Christos Tsiamis, EPA Project Manager for the Gowanus Canal Cleanup

While there are no pressing updates regarding the progress of EPA work in the Canal, Christos does offer important points of clarification.

Recently, someone called the police regarding the equipment being used to monitor conditions on the Canal. NYPD cut the cable and disposed of the box. EPA is going to work more diligently to ensure that contact information is included with all data-collection equipment to prevent future incidents like this one.

Regarding Water Quality: citizen science in the canal reportedly showed that the canal was swimmable. The EPA does not endorse this data, and does not make decisions based on single points of data.

Regarding the Discussion of Stormwater Retention Tanks at the NYC Long Term Control Plan Presentation and Public Meeting: The City is obligated to prepare this plan under an order from New York State. It is important to note that it would cost much more money to acquire private property adjacent to the canal to construct the EPA-mandated tanks rather than the public property farther away from the canal. EPA has received an evaluation of sites from New York City and the EPA has disagreements with this work; their comments have been submitted and are part of the public record. At the public meeting discussing the LTCP, the City discussed work having to do with the Superfund cleanup, including the locations and sizes of CSO retention tanks. The City was moving forward without talking about EPA feedback offered on the retention tanks. What the City presented at that meeting will not be constructed in the neighborhood to manage CSO runoff.

Read more »

Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
41 1st St. Brooklyn NY 11231, Mary Star of the Sea, Community Room


Report from Natalie Loney, EPA Region 2 Community Involvement Coordinator:

There are no new updates regarding work on the Canal from the EPA. Recently visitors from the People’s Republic of China came to the Canal. They were interested in the Superfund process, and how communities are involved in the government/community relationship. Katia Kelly served as the photographer for the day. This makes the fourth international visit: representatives from Italy, China, Russia and India have all come to the Canal. Read more »

We are terribly saddened to learn of the passing of our Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group colleague, and long-time local activist, Bette Stoltz, who died Thursday, November 19 after a brief illness. Our most sincere condolences go out to Bette’s family and many friends.

The CAG’s Katia Kelly posted a touching tribute to Bette on her blog, Pardon Me For Asking, which you can read here. And City Council Member Brad Lander published a moving remembrance of Bette’s civic advocacy on his blog, bradlander.nyc.

Bette Stoltz.

In light of the second Gowanus Canal swim this year by clean-water activist Christopher Swain, we thought we’d reiterate that the first resolution passed by the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group, way back in March 2012, was a call to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) that the quality of the water in the Canal be improved enough in the future to reclassify it from its current standard, SD, the lowest possible classification for marine waters.

The Gowanus Superfund Community Advisory Group hereby resolves that the water of the Gowanus Canal be reclassified from its current industrial standard, which is designated Class-SD. Class-SD only mandates a minimal level of dissolved oxygen be maintained in the waters, but places no limit to levels of pathogens present in the waterway.

The CAG requests that the Gowanus Canal be given a water classification that is protective of its current recreational uses which includes contact recreation for families and children. 
A reclassification that imposes limits on pathogen levels, both coliform and enterococci bacteria, is necessary to insure that children and others are not exposed to unacceptable health risks, including dangerous diseases, due to a simple act of coming into contact with the w!ater while recreating in, on, or at the canal.

The CAG believes that any Long-Term Control Plan put into place for New York City must raise the water quality of the Gowanus Canal to a standard compatible with recreational goals, a position we reiterated to NYC DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd in a June, 2015 letter.

You can learn more about New York State water-quality standards and classifications here.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is beginning remediation of the Gowanus Canal Northside site (also known as the Bayside Fuel Oil Depot) under New York State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program.

Work will include dismantling and removing oil storage tanks, piping and associated shallow contaminated soil for disposal off-site, in preparation of a full Remedial Investigation. Based on the results of the Remedial Investigation, NYS DEC will develop a Remedial Action Work Plan that will be subject to public comment, leading to a final design and cleanup action.

You can download NYSDEC’s Gowanus Canal Northside site factsheet here: http://www.dec.ny.gov/data/der/factsheet/c224080irm.pdf

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation today issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the K-Fulton Works site (NYSDEC site #224051), principally bordering the eastern edge of the head of the Gowanus Canal.  The ROD describes the remedy selected to address contamination on the site of the former manufactured-gas plant (MGP).

According to NYSDEC, the site was operated as a manufactured-gas plant from about 1879 until 1929.  The operation of the plant caused contamination of sub-surface soil and groundwater by coal tar, a byproduct of manufactured gas production.

Major elements of the planned cleanup include:

  1. Construction of a subsurface barrier wall to prevent coal tar migration to the Gowanus Canal.
  1. Coal tar recovery by use of coal tar recovery wells or other systems.
  1. Excavation and/or stabilization of MGP structures and source material to be coordinated with re-development.
  1. A Site Management Plan that will include provisions to monitor the performance and effectiveness of the remedy.

NYSDEC estimates the remediation work will cost $54,525,000.

Click here to view a PDF version of the complete ROD.

For more information, contact NYSDEC Project Manager Henry Willems at (518) 402-9662, or via email at henry.willems@dec.ny.gov.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group will hold its July 2015 General Meeting at the Mary Star of the Sea Senior Residences, at 41 1st Street in Carroll Gardens, at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 28.  All Gowanus CAG meetings are open to the public, and we invite you to attend to learn more about the EPA Superfund cleanup of the canal.

DRAFT AGENDA (all times are approximate)

6:30 – 7:00 PM: Introductions and Updates

  • Introductions
  • Project Updates (EPA)

7:00 PM: CAG Committee Updates

  • Administration Committee
  • Outreach Committee
  • Archaeology Committee
  • Water Quality and Technical Committee
    • NYSDEC amendments to the Brownfield Program regulations
  • Other Business

8:30 PM: Adjourn