The Gowanus Canal: From PCBs to STDs

Green Brooklyn links to an excellent Scienceline article that details the Gowanus Canal’s history of toxic pollution and gives an overview of current plans to clean up the waterway. Scientists are debating whether it makes more sense to dredge the canal or cap its toxic sediments, and they’re also examining how to go about remediating the land around the Gowanus. One of the story’s revelations, however, is that researchers have found more than just run-of-the-mill scary stuff like lead, sulfur, cyanide, asbestos, PCBs, mercury and volatile organic compounds in the canal:

Nilofaur Haque, a biologist at the New York City College of Technology, has her students analyze water samples and observe the oily substance that coats the water’s surface each afternoon. One group of students found gonohorrea in a water drop, said Haque.

As Green Brooklyn notes, Can’t wait for the ‘luxury condos.’
Tainted Lavender [Scienceline]
Sick Oysters In Gonohorrea — I Mean Gowanus — Canal [Green Brooklyn]

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  • Pleasant way to start my day

  • I can’t believe the powers that be are going to actually allow housing, and more importantly, produce, meats, etc. (Whole Foods)to be sold here someday.

    No amount of dredging, capping, or whatever can clean this stuff up.

  • Prediction – Whole foods will never open (going on 5 years already w/o even a stick in the ground)

  • This where our esteemed coucilmember wants to place affordable housing – along the banks of the canal. I would almost prefer all luxury condos because potential buyers at least will have a meaningful choice.

    On a positve note, if the dredging drags on you’ll probably be able to pick up brownstone east of Court for cheap.

  • Prediction – Increase in the use of the “Honestly Honey, I got the Gonohorrea from the Gowanus Whole Food Oyster Bar” excuse.

  • i’m sure alot of guys would now start telling their so’,they got gonohorrea from swimming in the canal.

  • I can’t wait for the canoe tour of the Gowanus Canal being offered this weekend as part of the “Open House New York” events.

  • 1. This canal is unlike any other canal and can not be cleaned.

    2. Regardless of the fact that the land is privately owned and has been warehoused for years – that a big park should be built on this private land.

    3. A park and boating in the water are safer uses than housing that may sit 40 feet from the water.

    4. Nothing should be planned to happen here until they clean the canal. The cleaning if the canal should not be based on the end use of the sites that sit next to them.

    5. Proper planning for the upland that works with hand and hand with planning for the remediation of the canal and the solution for the CSO related issues is really a ploy by the man.

    6. Real cleaning efforts just clean the canal and fix the CSO issue while leaving the privately owned unplanned bulkheads to let the privately owned and empty polluted dirt to seep into the canal.

  • Does anyone know if the pumps that flush the canal have been shut down yet for that repair? I ask this because at least one day that I walked over the lovely GC it really stank. To be fair, most days it smells fine, just covered with patches of oil slicks.

  • The Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas is example of what can be done. Once a similar industrial canal, now a prime spot. Too many hotels, but it is a convention spot. Still a good example though. Maybe something lower in scale and more for local residents than NYC tourists, but it can be done.

  • I too have been having serious doubts that Whole Foods will ever open in Gowanus. And though I love the store and it would be relatively convenient, I have no intentions of shopping there unless I feel like the site has been throughly cleaned. And I somehow doubt that is going to happen.

  • The San Antonio Riverwalk is nice and charming but it is also drained annually and cleaned. I am not sure that could be done with the Gowanus.