To quote the EPA, a clean-up can take “longer
                                                        than you hope and less than you fear.” Years and
                SUPERFUND GOWANUS                       years of pollution and neglect will have to be
                                                        undone. All the “quick fixes” that have been
                          We all have questions…        proposed are piecemeal at best, and would
                                                        remediate parcel by parcel, leaving many areas
WHAT IS GOING ON?                                       unaddressed and still highly polluted. It may take
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)               time but with the EPA we will know that it’s
recently announced that the Gowanus Canal has           being done right, by the experts, once and for all.
been nominated as a Superfund site. The
Superfund is a federally funded program that            WHERE WILL THE MONEY COME
identifies and cleans up the most highly polluted       FROM? ISN’T THE SUPERFUND BROKE?
sites throughout the country.                           Former and current polluters are liable to pay
                                                        some of the costs. The federal budget allocates
HOW DIRTY IS IT, REALLY?                                money each year for the Superfund. An
For over a hundred years, countless toxic,              additional 600 million is in the current budget
industrial pollutants have been dumped into the         allocation for sites already listed on the EPA
Gowanus Canal. Add in the combined sewage               Superfund National Priorities List.
overflow (yes, we’ve all seen it) and you get
some idea of the problem. The EPA doesn’t               WHY IS THIS HAPPENING NOW?
nominate a site unless it’s absolutely necessary-       The NY State Department of Environmental
it’s science, not conjecture or a popularity            Conservation (DEC) invited the EPA to evaluate
contest. EPA officials have already found cancer        the situation along the Canal. The DEC has been
causing PCB’s and metals such as mercury and            overseeing the city’s long-term planning for the
arsenic in the Gowanus Canal. While                     Gowanus for decades and understands all the
contaminants at many hazardous sites are                issues. The DEC was also engaged in the clean-
measured in parts per million, levels of coal tar,      up of Lowes, Public Place & Whole Foods, and
for example, were found to be in parts per              in doing so, found the problems to be much more
hundred in the canal sediment.                          than they could handle without the EPA.
PROPERTY VALUES?                                        The goal of the EPA is simple- clean up and
There may be some depreciation in property              restore the canal. To get that task done, jobs will
values at first but once an area is fully cleaned up,   be produced. Once we have a clean canal,
property values resurge. Let’s face it- nothing’s       the area can develop as the community
changed. We’ve all been living here, well aware         sees fit, along a healthy, viable waterway.
of a contaminated body of water in our backyard.
                                                        WHAT CAN ORDINARY CITIZENS AND
Only now, it’s finally being addressed,
                                                        RESIDENTS LIKE US DO?
realistically and comprehensively. In fact, the
                                                        There is a 90 day comment period which ends
value of our community’s health and future well-
                                                        July 8th wherein the EPA welcomes your
being is finally going up, not down.
                                                        comments- the more specific examples and
WON’T A SUPERFUND CLEAN-UP TAKE                         experiences you include, the better. For more
MANY, MANY YEARS?                                       information, go to
The City of NY has had decades to take action to        There, you can also sign a community petition to
bring the canal into compliance with the Clean          our elected officials asking them to represent
Water Act of 1972. The current mayor has had 8          your views for a Superfund clean-up of the
years and it still doesn’t meet water quality           Gowanus. If you have more questions, CB6 will
standards. Should we have confidence that the           be hosting a meeting with the EPA. Find out
city can get us there without Superfund support?        from CB6 when and where, and come.
                                  Friends of Bond, CORD, FROGG May 2009

To top