EPA Region 2’s Joel Singerman sent the following note to the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group today regarding efforts to address low dissolved oxygen levels in the canal while the flushing tunnel is not operating.

“In an effort to alleviate the low dissolved oxygen (DO) levels in the upper portion of the canal during CSO events while the flushing tunnel is offline, on August 16, 2023, the PRP Group reactivated an air curtain at the 3rd Street bridge. The air curtain is a bubbler that is located on the sediment bed and releases air to serve as a turbidity curtain that vessels can pass over. The sparged air will likely boost DO levels. The air curtain may also discourage the menhaden from swimming into the low DO level areas of the upper canal, and, thus, reduce the likelihood of another fish kill. The air curtain had been switched off for several months, as it was not needed during the capping operations. The PRP Group will operate the air curtain during working hours and monitor the effect on the DO levels. If the air curtain has a positive effect on DO levels, they will operate it during periods of suppressed DO levels in the canal.  Because it has not been determined if operating the air curtain at the 3rd Street bridge will have sufficient impact, the DO levels will need to be monitored to decide whether to maintain the air curtain at the 3rd Street bridge, move it, or obtain an additional air sparge setup, which could be as simple as using perforated pipes connected to air compressors.”

Following our July General Meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group wrote to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation requesting that the state provide indoor air-monitoring equipment to all buildings near the 49 State Brownfield and Superfund sites along the Gowanus Canal.

You can read our letter to NYSDEC here.

Following the retirement of long-time Gowanus Canal Remedial Project Manager Christos Tsiamis in June, EPA Region 2 has announced the appointment of three individuals to succeed him in supervising the Superfund cleanup of the Gowanus Canal.

Victoria Sacks, Mark Granger, and Tom Mongelli, all experienced hands at EPA, will jointly oversee the Canal’s ongoing remediation. Sacks’s expertise is in sediment remediation, while Granger will focus on the three former Manufactured Gas Plants and other upland sites. Mongelli has been managing the cleanup of the Wolff-Alport site on the Brooklyn-Queens border, which contains radioactive materials among its harmful contamination.

Read more about the Gowanus Canal’s new Remedial Project Managers below, courtesy of EPA Region 2.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has published a fact sheet and opened a public comment period for the proposed remediation of the site known as 125 Third Street in Gowanus.

NYSDEC states that, based on the findings of its investigation in consultation with the New York State Department of Health, it has determined that the site does not pose a significant threat to public health or the environment. NYSDEC reports that its decision is based on the nature of the existing contaminants identified at the site, and what it says is the lack of potential for off-site migration of contaminants in the groundwater.

How to Comment: NYSDEC is accepting written comments about the proposed Draft Remedial Action Work Plan (RAWP) through August 18, 2023.

You can access the RAWP and other project documents online through the DECinfo Locator here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/data/DecDocs/C224346/.

Documents also are available at Carroll Gardens branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, and at the Community Board 6 district office.

Comments and questions are welcome and can be directed as follows:

Project-Related Questions
Meghan Medwid, Project Manager
NYSDEC
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233
(518) 402-8610
meghan.medwid@dec.ny.gov

Project-Related Health Questions
Steven Berninger
NYSDOH
Corning Tower Room 1787
(518) 402-0443
beei@health.ny.gov

You can access the Fact Sheet for 125 Third Street here.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met via Zoom on June 12, 2023, from 7:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Members in attendance:
Celeste LeCompte
Joan Salome-Rodriguez
Joseph Alexiou

Guests:
Terri Thomson
Aaron Kaufman

Agenda

Committee Leadership & Goals

  • Committee needs new leadership
  • Focus for current moment is on raising awareness about the CAG public meetings
  • Challenges around aligning on what gets communicated from the full CAG as the CAG

Press List Development

April Notes: Joan has time to dig into this and can start to create a list of publications, reporters and others who might be good to reach out to with CAG information

  • Celeste shared press list starts that were shared during the Town Hall planning meeting,
  • We could solicit press lists/press contacts from members

Joan assembled a list of current contacts/contact info for local press: Outreach – MEDIA CONTACTS.xlsx

Outreach: Focus on Monthly Meetings

  • Email announcements about upcoming meetings of the full CAG to contacts on this list 
  • Joan to work on posting the monthly meetings on NextDoor, Patch, and Brooklyn Paper
  • Joseph to draft a press notice about the next monthly meeting
Read more »

Christos Tsiamis, who as Remedial Project Manager for the Superfund cleanup of the Gowanus Canal has been instrumental in the tremendous progress of the project to date, informed us today that we will be leaving EPA effective June 16th.

Tsiamis has led the engineering of the cleanup effort since the Canal was first designated a Superfund site 13 years ago, and he’s played a vital role in designing and executing the remedy. The importance of his leadership, commitment, and ability to innovate can’t be overstated, and we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for what his work means for this community.

The healthy future of the Gowanus Canal and the neighborhood surrounding it will serve as an ongoing testament to his work. Thank you, Christos, for all that you’ve done.

We publish Christos’s message to us below, in full.

Dear CAG Members:

I would like to let you know that I will be leaving EPA (but not the workforce altogether).  My last day at work will be Friday, June 16, 2023.  I would have liked to make this announcement in person, but circumstances have prevented me from doing so.

I have truly appreciated your dedication in pursuing the environmental cleanup of the Gowanus Canal and the surrounding areas, your intellectual astuteness, and your rigor in engaging with the governmental agencies.  Also, I am extremely grateful for how supportive you have been to my team and to me personally.  That support has been essential in carrying us through some very difficult times.  I will always cherish it.

It has been a great honor serving your community.  When I spoke to you, immediately after the 2010 listing of the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site, I made a promise.  I had said that I felt that it was time for me to give back to New York City for all the good things that the City had given me since the time I arrived here to study engineering on a scholarship.  The Gowanus Canal cleanup would be my opportunity to fulfill that promise.  Thirteen years later, I can tell you that, since that time, day after day I gave it all, to the best of my ability, to ensure that your community gets what it deserves, after so many decades of environmental neglect.  My guiding principles have been good and innovative science and engineering; smart, effective management; and, as importantly, respectful, direct, and honest engagement with all of you in the community.

Read more »

EPA Region 2 and the New York State Historic Preservation Office this month finalized and ratified a Programmatic Agreement codifying procedures for the treatment of architectural resources and the handling artifacts related to the Superfund cleanup of the Gowanus Canal.

The Programmatic Agreement outlines an Archaeology Monitoring Plan, a Preservation Plan, steps for the treatment of structures and buildings, coordination between the parties, guidelines for “unanticipated discoveries,” and steps for resolution of disputes.

The Programmatic Agreement will be in effect until the completion of the Superfund cleanup of the Gowanus Canal, or or 10 years, whichever is earlier.

You can access a PDF version of the complete 50-page Programmatic Agreement here.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection issued the following notice on May 11th regarding sidewalk and lane closures around the site of the large sewage-retention tank being constructed at the head end of the Gowanus Canal:

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is constructing an 8-million-gallon underground tank to intercept and store combined sewage and rainwater that would otherwise overflow into the Gowanus Canal during rainstorms. The project will help keep the Gowanus Canal clean after the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund dredging and capping is complete.

On Tuesday, May 16, 2023, the construction fencing around the perimeter of the construction site will be extended 15 feet into Butler and Nevins streets. It will remain in this condition for several years. 

During this phase of construction, crews will be excavating and constructing the enormous tank, which will extend nearly two blocks underground on the east side of the Canal. The construction fence will enclose the work area. The final phase of work will include a 1.6-acre public waterfront open space atop the tank.

A 12-foot-wide vehicular travel lane will be maintained on Butler and Nevins streets. Street parking will be partially unavailable on Buter Street between Nevins and Bond streets. There will be no street parking on Nevins Street between Butler and Sackett streets. Additionally, sidewalks on a portion of the south side of Butler Street and the west side of Nevins Street will be closed during this period of time.

Clear signage will safely direct pedestrian traffic to the open sidewalks on the north side of Butler Street and the east side of Nevins Street.

These sidewalk and lane closures, parking restrictions, and signage are outlined on the maps below:

Butler Street, Bond to Nevins (click image to enlarge)
Nevins Street, Union to Butler (click image to enlarge)

For questions or concerns about the construction project, please contact the Community Construction Liaison, Valentina Mascaro, at GowanusCCL@johnson-asberry.com or 934-216-0209. For more information, please visit https://www.nyc.gov/site/dep/water/gowanus-canal.page.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Administrative Committee met via Zoom conference on Thursday, April 13, at 9:30 a.m.

Committee members attending:
Katia Kelly
Margaret Maugenest
Rita Miller

Non-CAG members in attendance:
Cynthia Simmons

At the March general meeting, it was noted that one of the new applicants mentioned that reading through the Charter was confusing and conflicting.

Upon carefully reviewing what was posted on the CAG website, Rita noticed that the document, although correct in content, was not posted in the correct chronological order of its evolution.

The two addendums, one ratified in 2013, the other ratified in 2020, were apparently incorporated into the original 2011 document in a way that most certainly could be characterized as confusing and conflicting.

It was decided that the document should be displayed (posted on website) in the correct order, with the addendums clearly presented as such. Margaret and Rita took the task on and were able to reformat the original documents, in the correct order and in the original language of their approval by the CAG membership.

This will be sent to Eric and Doug for posting on the website as well as general distribution.

Other items discussed included a review of some of the March Admin Committee meeting items, which Admin has not as yet had the chance to bring to the general group, including ideas for a possible minor change in the wording of the application for new members, suggestions for FAQ’s regarding CAG membership to be added to the website, and a suggestion that EPA provide a Zoom account for the CAG which could be used to record and store all committee meetings, both old and new, as well as all Zoom general meetings.