Monday, December 06, 2010

From Russia With Hope: Delegation Visits The Gowanus Canal

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Russian Delegation visiting the Gowanus Canal with members of the US EPA Washington and New York Region 2 offices as part of the United States-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission's Environmental Working Group
(4th from left is Christos Tsiamis, EPA Gowanus Project Manager, then me,  second from right is Marlene Donnelly of FROGG, and first from the right is Natalie Loney, EPA Community Involvement Coordinator)


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Proteus Gowanus
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A sample of Gowanus Water at Proteus
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The Old American Can Factory
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Aerial view of the Gowanus Canal area from the rooftop of the Old American Can Factory
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Photo-op

On Friday, December 3rd, a delegation of Russian Federal and Regional administrators toured the Gowanus Canal as part of the United States-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission. The Commission was created in July 2009 by President Obama and President Medvedev of the Russian Federation to recognize common national interests and to coordinate relations amongst various agencies of both countries. This particular delegation was part of the Working Environmental Group and was here for technical exchange and training on the US Environmental Protection Agency's experience in management of hazardous waste.

The delegation first spent a few days in EPA's Washington office to learn about the Superfund program and then traveled to New York where Christos Tsiamis, EPA's Gowanus Canal Project Manager gave a presentation on his work. The presentation was followed by a visit to the polluted waterway.

Marlene Donnelly of FROGG and I had been invited to join the tour by Christos Tsiamis and Natalie Loney, EPA Community Involvement Coordinator, to speak about community involvement.

Currently, the Russian Federation is in the process of creating its own environmental program to address past environmental damage. Therefore, understanding the complexities and decision-making process of the Superfund program as it relates to the Gowanus Canal was of particular interest to the delegation.

The tour started on DeGraw Street, then proceeded to the Union Street Bridge. The next stop was Proteus Gowanus at 543 Union Street where Sasha Chavchavadze, the founder and director, welcomed the delegates in Russian and talked about Gowanus' vibrant artist community. The group toured the gallery's Hall Of The Gowanus and its display of art, artifacts, books and maps pertaining to the canal's history.

The tour continued on to the the Old American Can Factory at the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street. The old manufacturing building is home to over 200 people who work in the creative industry. Nathan Elbogen, its founder, accompanied the group to the building's rooftop to give them an aerial overview of the Gowanus Canal. Christos Tsiamis took the opportunity to point out the Whole Food site and the cement companies along the waterway.

I would like to thank Christos Tsiamis and Natalie Loney for inviting me to join the group on its tour. As always, it was fascinating to hear about the EPA's work on the canal.

It was a great pleasure to meet members of the Russian delegation.



Members Of The Russian Delegation

1. Vygon, Grigory Vladimirovich, Director, Office of Economics and Finances, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation

2. Nefediev, Nikolai Borisovich, Deputy Director, Deputy Director, Office of State Politics and Regulations in Environmental Protection and Environmental Security, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation


3. Burkanova, Olga Anatolievna, Office Director, Department of State Politics and Regulations in Environmental Protection and Environmental Security, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation

4. Sahno, Elena Vladimirovna, Referent, Referent, Office of Control and Execution, Department of Business and Human Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation

5. Krivov, Ravil Alexeevich, Referent, Office of Economics and Finances, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation

6. Shpinkov, Viachslav Igorevich, Senior Specialinst/Expert, Office of International Cooperation, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation

7. Sergeeva, Daria Alexandrovna, Assistant Director, Office of Economics and Finances, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation

8. Ishutin, Vadim Borisovich, Deputy Chairman of Committee on Property and Duty of Voronezh Duma, Voronezh Regional Duma

9. Berlin, Jan Ernestovich, Deputy Head Administration of Nenetz Autonomous District on Infrastructure Development

10. Kungurtsev, Sergei Stanislavovich, Lead Consultant, Department of International and Inter-regional Relations, Information, and Mass-communications, Administration of Nenetz Autonomous District

11. Barsukov, Vladislav Valerievich, Director, Office of International Relations, “Ecobezopasnost” Institute

12. Kuznetsov, Dmitry Alexandrovich, Deputy Director, Office of International Relations, “Ecobezopasnost” Institute

13. Chernov, Alexander Efimovich, Minister, Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning of Kaluga Region

14. Vasutin, Alexander Sergeevich, Deputy Head of Representation of the Government of Kaluga Region in the Government of the Russian Federation, Representation of Government of Kaluga Region in the Government of the Russian Federation, Office of Representative of the Government of Kaluga Region in the Government of the Russian Federation

15. Sychev,Yury Fedorovich, Advisor to Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cooperation in the Arctic and Antarctic, State Duma

16. Nicolaev Venedict Venedictovich, Director, “Ecobezopasnost” Institute

17. Agranovsky, Alexander, Director General, “GreenTeam” Ltd

18. Bratchikov, Alexander, Embassy of the Russian Federation

19. Shamrai, Pavel, Embassy of the Russian Federation

Interpreters:
Svetlana Guggenheim, RussianWorks, Inc.
Anna Mazurova, RussianWorks, Inc.


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