EPA Announces Final Gowanus Cleanup Plan

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The final plan to clean up the Gowanus is in — and it’s only a partial cleanup. The EPA will dredge the canal to remove the toxic cancer-causing sludge at the bottom, but sewage from city sewer overflows will still pour into the canal, DNAinfo and many other outlets reported. (Fixing that would require rebuilding the city sewer system.) Two new overflow tanks will help reduce the sewage flowing in. In the end, though, the Gowanus may be clean enough for boating, but not swimming or fishing, said EPA regional administrator Judith Enck, above.

The New York Post had a great description of the canal’s history: “The Gowanus was built in 1848, quickly becoming one of the country’s busiest industrial waterways, flanked by gas and coal companies, chemical and cement manufacturers, plus paint and ink factories, machine shops and tanneries — all discharging into the canal.”

A toxic sludge disposal facility will not be located in Red Hook, and the location of the overflow tanks, a controversial subject affecting a nearby public pool, has yet to be determined, said DNAinfo. The cleanup won’t start for another three years, and will take about a decade. It will cost $506 million.

EPA Releases Finalized $506 Million Gowanus Canal Cleanup Plan [DNAinfo]
Gowanus Recovery to Set Sail [NY Post]
Photo by Leslie Albrecht for DNAinfo

3 Comment

  • Is a partial clean up really worth it? We know there is cancer causing toxic chemicals at the bottom of the canal but if the sewerage issue is not addressed, isn’t the semi clean up somewhat worthless?

    506 million dollars and more than a decade away. I think the clean up is a complete waste of money, time and effort. especially since sewerage is still going to be draining into the canal.

    I think a good idea would be to just put new sewerage tanks in the canals place and bury them, plant grass and trees above and just let the canal area be natural land. The sewerage can still drain into tanks buried, and the land above could look nice.

  • Sounds like it will b a wonderful place to live next door too