Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Barging On The Gowanus Canal: The Benson Scrap Metal Yard

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Standing on opposite sides of the Gowanus Canal from the Benson Scrap Metal yard at 543 Smith Street near Hamilton Avenue, I watched for quite a while as a huge barge was slowly being filled with scrap metal. It was rather fascinating to watch, until I thought about all the metal that had most likely been dropped into the waters of the Gowanus over decades and had no doubt added to the pollution in the canal. As 2010 begins, I wonder what the next decade will bring to the Gowanus Canal and its surrounding area. Will places like Benson Scrap Metal still be operating on the edge of our neighborhood ten years from now?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Scrap metal is money to Benson so they DO NOT drop metal into the Canal. Please try to avoid accusations / spread rumors against our Gowanus businesses.

Unfortunately, superfund designation is coming, and the EPA will force Benson to relocate during remediation and they will never be able to return - instead, we'll see hi-rise housing and an esplanade. Happy New Year!

Batman said...

Unfortunately, I do not see this operation continuing at this location. Development along the Gowanus will undoubtedly become more recreational and residential in nature. The sad thing about it is that the Gowanus always was, and SHOULD be, a working canal.

The brownstones of this area, the marble yards and concrete ballast shipments, all happened because of the canal. With the working waterfronts largely gone from Red Hook, where will these places go?

Well, since the operations are not profitable enough to retrofit or improve, they will probably move to the North Shore of Staten Island or Port Newark.

This will ultimately prove to be a negative for the community, as more truck traffic (on top of the already horrible truck traffic and Gowanus Expressway overflow) will further clog our streets. I'll take some metal scraps at the bottom of the canal over trucks rattling my foundation and clouding up my air any day.

Anonymous said...

Well stated Batman,

If you browse the City Planning website, you'll find the City's plan was to preserve about half of Gowanus to retain manufacturing. The City's plan was discarded once the EPA decided all of Gowanus warranted remediation.

This means the loss of jobs and a greater strain on infrastructure and schools by the consstruction of new hi-rise housing throughout the entire canal instead of just the north end.

Thank you EPA.

Anonymous said...

Scrap metal does not pollute the canal. The fact that they are barging makes good use of the waterway. I, for one, would like to see Gowanus remain an industrial/manufacturing area. We need the jobs. WE don't need more housing, that's for sure.

Plow to Plate said...

WHOA, 2:43 - NOWHERE is it stated or implied that EPA Superfund cleanup = high rise housing all along the canal. The EPA said they will remediate according to the function of the land. Residential development would need the highest level of clean-up. The EPA was VERY CLEAR about not being involved in how the community uses the land.

Anonymous said...

2:45 and Plow are both correct - the Superfund program allows for a less comprehensive cleanup depending on the eventual use of the property but to imagine that a Gowanus property would go through the costly expense of a cleanup without recouping costs (via residential hi-rise) is either idealistic or ignorant.

Whole Foods has given up on their store and is cleaning their site so new hi-rise residential can be built (following a rezoning or BSA variance due to hardship). Why wouldn't other owners do the same?

Anonymous said...

7:53 - Maybe I am missing something - but I have to agree with Plow that the EPA has said nothing about land use. The re-zoning has been been put off the table for now. Talking about residential hi-rises along the Gowanus banks so that property owners can recoup clean-up costs - is it really up to the property owners to say what will be done with the land? Obviously every property owner wants to exploit land as much as possible - but the community will have some input here. There are also issues of infrastructure, contextual zoning (if Carroll Gardens doesn't want upzoning, why should Gowanus?), appropriateness for site (the canal/land relation - the sewage discharge, etc) Let's not put the cart before the horse here. That's what's been being done with Gowanus all along before EPA came. Toll Bros being an excellent example getting their spot rezoning.

Anonymous said...

The EPA has discussed land use. They have clearly stated that if the land use is industrial, Superfund cleanup will be to a lesser degree and to a greater level if the end use is residential.

The EPA has yet to disclose what property is in/out of the designation but if your contaminated property is in the area, cleanup will be required.

Batman points out that Superfund is an eviction notice to Gowanus business as they can not afford to close shop / return after cleanup - even if the cleanup of private property is paid for with our tax dollars.

The Superfund is affecting Gowanus land use - we can't ignore that fact. You agree the City's rezoning was withdrawn - that's another way Superfund has affected Gowanus land use.

Christine O'Donnell said...

These posts were from nearly two years ago and Benson scrap metal is still operating - morning, noon, and night. As a matter of fact, I can vouch for the fact that they work nearly 24 hours a day, since I live a half a block away and have to listen to crushing metal at 1am. What do I need to do to have them work normal hours that don't disturb nearby residents??

Anonymous said...

I googled Benson Scrap Metal because it kept me up all night recently with incredibly loud noises between the hours of 12am and 5am. I wish they operated during business hours. Anyway interesting read, especially for those who said they are not polluting the canal. Apparently they are and have been fined. http://www.bizjournals.com/newyork/news/2012/12/06/scrap-metal-fine-brooklyn-gowanus-pollut.html

Anonymous said...

I am resident near the canal and I have been monitoring the situation for my own awareness and have learned Scrap metal is valuable therefore the scrap dealers are not wreckless with the metal and avoid droping metals in the water at all cost do some research befor you make accusations about something your not well informed about

Anonymous said...

Benson is NOT the kind of neighbor I want to have around. Loading barges and trucks at 2:30am shows that their greed overrides any common courtesy. I have no issue with noise during regular business hours, but the night time operation has to end!

And please save me from comments about yuppies and how the neighborhood has been changing!

Anonymous said...

This thread is the greatest example of how ridiculous people in Brooklyn are. This scrap metal yard puts out tons of toxic pollution into the air (heavy metal dust) brongs tons of traffic (24hr truck trips) is noisy and operates at all hours , and is visually ugly...but the anti everything people of brooklyn dont want any change so its a 'great part of a working canal' but if anyone had proposed adding such a business the same people would be lightening themselves on fire to highlight the evils of this scrap yard.