At its January 26, 2021 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution expressing support for the EPA Region 2 team tasked with leading the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup.

The resolution reads as follows:

Resolved:
The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) strongly supports Walter Mugdan and his Superfund Cleanup Team, Christos Tsiamis, Brian Carr and Natalie Loney for their excellent work in providing the best solution for the remediation of the Gowanus Canal and adjacent sources of contamination. In addition, the CAG appreciates the clarity that Mr. Tsiamis provided in our December 1st General CAG meeting where he gave an overview of the extent of the coal tar contamination at Public Pace based on NYS DEC’s own Remediation database and explained the differences between the 2007 Voluntary Cleanup Program and the Brownfield Cleanup currently being implemented. The CAG continues to be thankful to Mr. Tsiamis for sharing his extensive knowledge of the issues around the canal and the contamination of Public Place.

Background:
NYSDEC Site Remediation Database for Public Place states: “The site is underlain by a deep sand deposit, which has enabled the coal tar released from the former MGP to migrate both vertically and horizontally. Two other MGPs are also located nearby, and it is not always possible to tell where the tar plume from one site ends and the next begins.” “The site is heavily contaminated with MGP residuals, including coal tar and petroleum products. The principal contaminant is coal tar, which is present as a non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) throughout the portion of the site that borders the canal. Contaminants are impacting the soil, groundwater and soil gas. Contamination is present to depths of at least 120 feet below grade, and has been observed migrating off-site at depth. The nearest environmental receptor is the Gowanus Canal, where significant discharges of coal tar can be seen during low tide periods. Active coal tar seeps are found in two locations along the canal; under extreme low tide conditions, these seeps can cover a several hundred-foot reach of the canal with slicks and sheens. The canal is used as a recreational resource by kayakers and canoers. Based on the heavy contamination at the site, NYSDEC has determined that the site poses a significant threat to human health and the environment.”

Click here to see a PDF version of the full resolution.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 2 office issued the following statement today regarding the sinking of a barge filled with dredge sediment from the Gowanus Canal earlier this week in Gowanus Bay:

EPA continues to investigate the incident that caused a barge containing material dredged from the Gowanus Canal, as part of the continuous operations at that Superfund Site project, to become submerged, under high tide conditions, in the Gowanus Bay. The barge was filled on January 22 with an estimated 850 tons of material dredged from the canal. This work is part of the dredging remedy being performed by potentially responsible parties (PRPs) for the site. The barge was permitted to be moored at a specific location in the Gowanus Bay, as indicated in the map below.

On January 25, EPA was notified that the barge was resting upright on mudflats and it was partially submerged. Given the tide cycle, the barge had likely been submerged to varying degrees depending on the tide.

On Tuesday, January 26, Cashman, a contractor for the canal site, successfully pumped water from the sunken barge into a separate, empty barge and the barge was refloated. After refloating the barge, a small hole was identified and was subsequently patched. While this appears to be the cause of the incident, EPA is continuing to investigate. Following Coast Guard approval, the barge was safely moved to the Gowanus Canal dredge staging site at Smith and Huntington Streets so that the sediments on the barge could be dewatered. No visible sheens were observed after the incident was noted and initial observations indicate that the bulk of the sediment in the hopper container within the barge remains in place.

While EPA is confident that no adverse impacts to human health resulted from this incident, EPA takes this incident seriously and is reviewing field operations associated with this Superfund cleanup. The dredging of the canal was temporarily halted so that efforts could concentrate on addressing the barge and barge operations.

EPA has informed the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group, as well as federal, state, and local partners, of the incident and will continue to update the public as more information becomes available via the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site website and through updates, as needed.

To view future updates or statements about the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site, visit www.epa.gov/superfund/gowanus-canal.

General location of Bayridge Flats mooring station. The barge was moored to the northern mooring point.

On January 25, 2021, EPA was informed that a barge of dredged material from the Gowanus Canal Superfund site cleanup that was moored in Gowanus Bay had sunk. Cashman, a contractor for the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) for the Gowanus site in Brooklyn, NY, has mobilized pumps, booms, and silt curtains to the location and pumped water from the sunken barge into a separate, empty barge during periods of lower tide. Operations for stabilizing the barge will continue today. Dredging activities have been temporarily suspended so that crews can concentrate on operations to secure the barge.

EPA is consulting with the PRPs and is actively investigating the incident to determine the cause, whether contaminated sediment was released into the water, and to determine appropriate next steps. EPA’s goals are to do all that we can do to ensure that this type of mishap does not happen again and that any impacts from yesterday’s accident are appropriately and promptly addressed. EPA will update the public as more information becomes available.

Please join us for our monthly General Meeting, conducted via Zoom video conference, on Tuesday, January 26th, at 6:30 p.m. Advance registration is required for non-members of the CAG, here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcvcOuupjkqE92nLMTVD0k3oPcGXEAo2RqK

DRAFT AGENDA (all times are approximate)

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

6:45 – 7:30 p.m.: US EPA

  • Project Updates and Q&A

7:30 – 8:15 p.m.: CAG Resolutions (as time allows)

  • Support for EPA Gowanus Canal Superfund Team
  • Support for EPA 11/6/20 Letter to DEP
  • Reclassification of Gowanus Canal

8:15 – 8:30 p.m.: CAG Committee Issues and Updates

  • Leadership Committee
  • Admin Committee
  • Outreach Committee
  • Water Quality and Technical Committee
  • Archaeology Committee
  • Land Use Committee

8:30 p.m.: Adjourn

All Gowanus Canal CAG meetings are open to the public.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met via Zoom conference on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, at 7 p.m.

CAG Members present:
Paul Basile
David Briggs
Katia Kelly
Louis Kleinman
Hildegaard Link
Steve Marcus


Margaret Maugenest
Andrea Parker
Peter Reich
Brad Vogel
Sue Wolfe
Maryann Young

Guests:
Jason Brody
Judy Janda (Greenspace Community Garden)
Neeyati Johnson (GCC)
Lynn Neuman (GNCJ)
Terri Thomson (National Grid)
Guy Wedwab (CB6 EWCDH committee member)

Open Items:

Item 1

Draft resolution for bulkhead encroachments into canal.

Action

Brad (and Peter) drafted a letter to EPA that states the following CAG requests: a) a navigable waterway be maintained, and b) if the lost canal surface area due to the new bulkhead encroachments exceeds the new surface area of the restored 1st Street turning basin, then additional canal surface area must be created elsewhere to offset the lost area. All reviewed; Dave suggested three minor edits and attaching photos. Brad will revise and send.

Item 2

Ongoing conversation regarding the new Unified Storm Water Rule and recent construction of Pig’s Beach bulkhead. Andrea shared recent Water Quality/Technical Committee draft resolution.

Action

Katia and Margaret expressed concern that the draft was not discussed at the January 4th Water Quality/Technical Committee meeting and requested that it be discussed in more depth at the next WQ committee meeting. All agreed. Andrea will circulate via email for further review and comment by the Land Use Committee.

Read more »

The EPA has notified certain Gowanus-area property owners in a letter that contractors installing new bulkheads in preparation of dredging will be plugging unpermitted outfall pipes that discharge into the Gowanus Canal to prevent recontamination after the Superfund cleanup is complete.

The undated letter, from EPA Assistant Regional Counsel Brian Carr to unnamed property owners, was accompanied by maps and a table indicating the locations of the outfalls that will be plugged. The letter asks the property owners to contact EPA regarding the outfalls.

See a PDF version of the letter here.

See maps of the unpermitted outfall locations between the head of the canal and Union Street Bridge and the Union Street and Carroll Street Bridges.

See a table of all unpermitted outfall locations between the head of the canal and the Carroll Street Bridge.

At its December 1, 2020 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution asking EPA to review and comment on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s planned changes to the remediation of Public Place.

The resolution reads as follows:

Resolved:
Due to the recent announcement by the NYSDEC of changes to its remediation plan for Public Place, we ask EPA to review and comment on the changes and make a determination as to the effectiveness of such proposed changes in preventing the remaining Public Place site contamination from contaminating the surrounding neighborhood and the Gowanus Canal. The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) strongly recommends that any clean up of Public Place prioritize the health and safety of the area’s present and future residents and aquatic life in the Gowanus Canal.

Be it further Resolved:
Since Public Place was and continues to be a major source of contamination to the Gowanus Canal, the Gowanus Canal Advisory Group requests that the EPA use its technical expertise to advise the CAG if the current plan for the Public Place remediation put forth by the NYSDEC will meet the current and future needs of the community under the Record of Decision.

Click here to see a PDF version of the full resolution.

At its December 1, 2020 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution in support of an October 27th letter sent by EPA Region 2 to the New York City Departments of City Planning (DCP) and Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding the Gowanus Superfund Record of Decision and the Gowanus Rezoning.

The resolution reads as follows:

Resolved:
The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) strongly supports the position EPA states in its October 27th letter to the NYC DEP and NYC DCP regarding the proposed rezoning of the land surrounding the banks of Gowanus Canal, “that any rezoning impacting the Canal must proceed in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment, as envisioned in EPA’s Canal remedy” and affirmed in the 2013 Gowanus Canal Record of Decision (ROD).

Background:
The EPA clarifies for the DCP and DEP that EPA’s role under CERCLA also includes: “ensuring that future land-use changes do not adversely affect the integrity of Superfund cleanups, including the ongoing work at the Gowanus Canal”; and in a May 2019 letter the EPA “directed the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to provide rezoning-related information to EPA as part of the CSO tank design process.” And the EPA again reiterates that “Progress on the CSO tanks . . . has been delayed by DEP”, while “Progress on the Canal cleanup is among the factors cited by the City in support of the rezoning.”

Click here to see a PDF version of the full resolution.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met via Zoom conference on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, at 7 p.m.

CAG Members present:
Paul Basile
David Briggs
Katia Kelly
Louis Kleinman
Hildegaard Link
Steve Marcus

Guests:
Owen Foote
Terri Thomson (National Grid)
Sandy Renz


Andrea Parker
Peter Reich
Brad Vogel
Sue Wolfe
Maryann Young

Open Items:

Item 1

Draft resolution for bulkhead encroachments into canal.

Action

In lieu of a resolution, Brad will draft a letter to EPA with Peter’s assistance that states the following CAG requests: a) a navigable waterway be maintained, and b) if the lost canal surface area due to the new bulkhead encroachments exceeds the new surface area of the restored 1st Street turning basin, then additional canal surface area must be created elsewhere to offset the lost area.

New Items:

Item 1

Steve’s draft resolution summarizing Christos Tsiamis’ summary of Public Place’s cleanup history at the December 1st CAG meeting, which expresses appreciation and support for Christos’ contributions.

Action

After discussion on whether a resolution is an appropriate format for expressing support, most of the committee voted in favor of the resolution with two abstentions.

Read more »

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Admin Committee met via Zoom conference on Tuesday, December 15th, at 10:00 a.m.

Committee members attending:
Jerry Armer
Katia Kelly
Rita Miller

Other CAG members attending:
Louis Kleinman
Margaret Maugenest

Guest:
Owen Foote

1) New member applications reviewed

Mac Thayer
Ivana Nitzova

Earlier & Current Applicants who have responded that they are still interested; “interviews” to follow in January:

Mike Song
Andrew Timmis
Linda Laviolette
Nene Humphrey
Ashley Privett

Two earlier applicants did not respond. Admin will reach out to them once again after the January general meeting.

Read more »