Gowanus Canal formerly hosted considerable commercial barge traffic.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposed cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal, located in Brooklyn, N.Y. The cleanup includes removing some of the contaminated sediment and capping dredged areas around the contaminated canal. The proposed plan also includes controls to prevent raw sewage overflows and other land-based sources of contamination from compromising the cleanup. The cost of the cleanup plan is expected to be between $467 and $504 million.
Completed in the mid-1800s, the Gowanus Canal was once a major industrial transportation route. Manufactured gas plants, paper mills, tanneries and chemical plants are among the many facilities that operated along the canal. According to the EPA, as a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, raw sewage overflows from sewer systems that carry sanitary waste from homes and rainwater from storm drains and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation’s most seriously contaminated water bodies.
The EPA will accept public comments on its proposed plan until March 28, 2013. “The proposed cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal will make essential progress in removing toxic contaminants from this heavily polluted and battered waterway,” says Judith Enck, EPA’s regional administrator. “Our overall goal is to reduce pollution and protect the health of people who live and work in this community. The EPA encourages people to attend the January public meetings on the proposed plan and submit written comments no later than March 28.”
More than a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals, including mercury, lead and copper, were found at high levels in the sediment in the Gowanus Canal. PAHs and heavy metals were also found in the canal water.
Written comments on the proposed plan can be addressed to: Christos Tsiamis, project manager, Central New York Remediation Section, US EPA, 290 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866, e-mail: GowanusCanalComments.Region2@epa.gov.