Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Notes On EPA's Presentation Of Gowanus Canal Feasibility Study To Members Of Community Advisory Group

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Christos Tsiamis, EPA Region 2 project manager for the Gowanus Canal
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Jeff Edelstein, Gowanus CAG facilitator
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Brian Carr, EPA Region 2 lawyer
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Victoria Hagman(l) and Natalie Loney,
EPA Region 2 Community Involvement Coordinator
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Hans Hasselein, Gowanus Canal Conservancy
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Eymund Diegel, Proteus Gowanus
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Michelle De La Uz (l), Fifth Avenue Committee and Ludger Balan, Urban Divers


Christos Tsiamis, Environmental Protection Agency's site manager for the Gowanus Canal Superfund, presented the just-released Feasibility Study to the Community Advsiory Group (CAG) at a meeting on Monday night.
Many CAG members had also attended the EPA's presentation on the FS to the general public at PS 58 last week, so they were already quite familiar with the options available for cleaning and containing the highly toxic sludge that has been accumulating on top of the native sediment at the bottom of the canal. This allowed Tsiamis to take more time to take questions and to explain specifics, especially addressing the issue of re-contamination after the clean-up.
As Tsiamis pointed out, the Gowanus Canal cannot be cleaned effectively without eliminating the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) discharges from New York City's sewer system as well as the coal tar oozing from National Grid's three  MGP sites lining the canal. This, of course, involves a tremendous amount of co-ordinate with New York City's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which is responsible for the CSOs and with NYS Department Of Environmental Conservation (DEC)  under whose supervision National Grid will clean up the MGP sites.
"This is an issue that has to be addressed. We need to curtail those sources of contamination," Tsiamis stated.
Quite a few CAG members seemed concerned that NYC DEP has, until now, not shown a willingness to take responsibility for their part in the clean-up. After all, Farrell Sklerov, a spokesperson for DEP told the Brooklyn Paper: “The evidence clearly indicates that the primary sources [of contamination] are the former industrial plants on the canal, and not ongoing sewer overflows.”

That seems laughable since most residents of the Gowanus area have witnessed CSO events such as this one.
"The CS0s have to be dealt with so that we have a sustainable remedy. That's a statement in the Feasibility Study." Tsiamis told the CAG. "We have been in talks [with the City] about ways that can be implemented to address this particular matter." 
A meeting has been scheduled between the EPA and DEP for February 2 to discuss specific technical possibilities.
One way to control CSOs within the framework of the Superfund would be to construct a retention basin 
to retain discharges after heavy rains, much like the facility completed by DEP in Perdegat Basin,


As a community, we should let the City know that its denial and delay mechanisms are not going to fly in this community.
Perhaps a letter writing campaign to Mayor Bloomberg and to our own city representatives, Councilmen Brad Lander and Steven Levin, is in order?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our CSO discharge is being ignored by the EPA / our Federal Govt. The Feds passed a Clean Water Act but NYC continues to wait for Federal funding to implement CSO improvements.

Our City has allocated $180M (of tax dollars that could have been spent on parks and schools) on the Gowanus pump replacement project to improve Canal water. EPA has done NOTHING.