Dear Readers, after Tuesday's announcement that the EPA had included the Gowanus Canal on its list of Superfund sites, our local officials have issued their own statements in response.
In case you have not yet read them, here they are. I will include more as they are issued.
Statement By State Senator Velmanette Montgomery
I congratulate the people of Brooklyn on today’s announcement by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that the Gowanus Canal will be listed on the National Priorities Registry.
I was proud to stand with the local Gowanus residents who overwhelmingly said “Superfund Me!” And today we know our voices were heard. We know that this is the beginning of a lengthy process, but we are confident that with the oversight of the EPA, and their extensive experience and success in dealing with highly polluted areas like the Gowanus Canal that this complicated job will be done thoroughly, professionally, and to recognized international standards. I am confident that New York City and Brooklyn will gain enormously as we reclaim the long-ignored Lavender Lake and transform it into a vibrant, healthy, natural resource to the benefit of us all.
Thank you, everyone who contributed their personal knowledge and contributed to today’s decision. And thank you to the EPA for hewing to the science. All of us look forward to working with you on this long overdue reclamation.
Statement By State Senator Daniel Squadron
“The Environmental Protection Agency made the right decision today by listing the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site, a designation I have advocated for since May.
“After hearing from hundreds of interested parties and carefully reviewing the status of the cleanup site, the EPA reached the same conclusion I did: designating this waterway as a Superfund site is simply the most reliable way to ensure we have the dollars and the coordination to undo years of environmental damage. I commend the EPA not only for its conclusion but for its commitment to transparency and participation throughout the process. Since the listing was first proposed in April 2009, the EPA has included the community in its deliberations at every step of the way--a precedent that bodes well as we undertake such a complex cleanup effort together.
“Having achieved a Superfund listing, we must now ensure that the cleanup is transparent and effective, and that the community is included in the process of planning and oversight. As the community has long argued, the canal and surrounding area must be cleaned comprehensively--the cleanup must address the silt in the canal bed, the water itself and the upland portions of the site. Further, the EPA must guarantee that its work complements existing efforts to clean the canal and revitalize the community. Specifically, acknowledging the value of the City's construction of a flushing tunnel to address Combined Sewer Overflow pollution is critical, as is working cooperatively with DEC to approve the needed barrier along the embankment of the Public Place site.
“Working efficiently and with the community, the EPA will be a welcome partner in the effort to clean the Gowanus Canal.”
Statement by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez
“Today’s announcement of Superfund designation ensures the Gowanus Canal will be fully restored, helping provide a healthy future for South Brooklyn. The EPA has the proven expertise to oversee a comprehensive clean-up, while holding accountable those responsible for the pollution. As this process moves forward, I will continue working to revitalize this local landmark so that it can fully live up to its potential.”
Statement by State Assembly Member Joan Millman
For decades, the community has demanded that the canal and surrounding land be completely cleaned in order to provide housing, including senior and affordable housing, parkland and recreational opportunities. I am confident that the Gowanus Canal will be a priority for the EPA and they will use the full weight of their authority to remediate the site comprehensively and expediently. I have been assured that the EPA will adhere to the highest and most complete standards of remediation and will utilize the most up to date monitoring systems to assess and avert any hazard to the community during the clean-up process.
I call upon the EPA to commence clean-up activities as soon as possible and not delay remediation due to lengthy legal battles with responsible polluters. Of the local residents, business leaders and community activists that I have met with, all agree that we cannot continue to ignore this heavily polluted waterway.
I again urge the City to continue moving forward with the planned rezoning of the Gowanus Canal area. The EPA has made it clear that its proposed remediation for the area will be dependent upon the final use of the land. Land that is zoned for mixed or residential use will be required to achieve a higher standard of clean-up.
A successful clean-up of the Gowanus Canal will tie together communities, provide open space for a variety of recreational uses, and create a safer environment for all.
Statement By Councilman Brad Lander
“I am very enthusiastic to hear about Superfund designation of the Gowanus Canal, which was announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Previous EPA studies have confirmed that the Canal is highly toxic and requires comprehensive cleanup. I am convinced that Superfund designation is the best approach for getting it done – to bring the substantial resources necessary, provide for optimal coordination between all interested parties, and best insure that the community is well-informed and involved. Over time, I believe that Superfund designation will turn the Gowanus Canal area from a toxic remnant of mistreatment of the environment into a sustainable community resource for decades to come.
“Starting today, I am eager to begin working with the full range of stakeholders toward a comprehensive cleanup of the Canal and the surrounding area. For supporters and opponents of Superfund designation, it is now time to come together and work collaboratively toward our shared goals of a comprehensive cleanup and a revitalized community.
"Citizen involvement in this project will be critical for years to come. The EPA has done a great job with community outreach, information, and involvement thus far, and I am optimistic they will continue to do so. Toward this end, I also want to express my strong support for the prompt creation of a Community Advisory Group (CAG) for this site, to facilitate broader community involvement. I hope that the CAG will not only look at the dredging of the Canal (the focus on the Superfund project), but bring people and public agencies together to better address sewage overflow into the Canal, brownfields around the Canal, bulkheads, and other related issues.
With Superfund designation in place, it is time for everyone to come together, roll up our sleeves and get to work!”
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