Thursday, October 24, 2013

Now The Clean-Up Is The Law: EPA Region 2 Gowanus Superfund Team Updates Community Advisory Group

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Christos Tsiamis, EPA Region 2 project manager for the Gowanus CanalIMG_4511
Brian Carr, EPA Region 2 lawyer with Christos TsiamisIMG_4507
Natalie Loney, EPA Region 2 Community Involvement Coordinator, and Christos TsiamisIMG_4516
New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery
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Doug Sarno, EPA Gowanus Community Advisory Group facilitator

On Tuesday evening, the  Environmental Protection Agency Gowanus Canal Superfund Community Advisory Group (CAG) gathered at Mary Star Of The Sea Senior Center for its regular monthly meeting.  It was the first meeting since the release of the EPA's Record Of Decision (ROD) on September 30th, 2013.

The signing of the document was a gigantic leap forward in the Superfund process.
The ROD not only represents the blue print for the final decision on how to clean the heavily polluted 1.8 mile long Gowanus Canal, it makes this clean-up "the law of the land."

The EPA Region 2 Gowanus Superfund team was present at Tueday's meeting to let the community know "where we are and where we are going" from this point forward.

Natalie Loney,  EPA Region 2's Community Involvement Coordinator, indicated that the agency will hold two informal community meetings in early November to talk about the ROD. Dates and locations will be announce shortly.

Christos Tsiamis, EPA's Project Manager for the Gowanus Canal, spoke in depth about timeline, process for the remediation and the ROD. 
The clean-up calls for the removal of the contaminated soft sediment at the bottom of the canal that has accumulated during a century and a half of industrial use.  The material will be shipped to an off-site facility and will be disposed of in an environmentally appropriate manner.
Since isolated contamination will remain even after dredging, several layers of capping material will be applied over the native sediment. This will prevent the remaining contamination to come in contact with aquatic life.
In addition, the 450 foot long First Street Turning Basin will be restored, dredging and capped in the same manner.

The ROD puts in place several controls to insure that the canal will not be re-contaminated after remediation.
One control involves the Combined Sewer Oveflows at the head of the canal.  Two retention tanks will be installed to capture the discharges from these CSOs during heavy rains.  The waste water will be pumped out again as soon as capacity at the local treatment plant is restored, 
The EPA will also make sure that the remedy will not be impacted by the coal tar from three former Manufacturing Gas Plant (MGP) sites.  The Metropolitan site, the  Fulton site,  and the Citizen's site (a.k.a. Public Place) will be remediated by National Grid under the supervision of NY State Department of Environmental Conservation.  EPA will work closely with them.

The next three years will be dedicated to designing the remedy, but the EPA is anticipating doing some work in the canal by this spring.  The final phase, the actual remediation, will take about 6 years.

On the legal front,  Brian Carr, EPA Region 2's lawyer, stated that Notices Of Liability have been sent out to the Responsible Parties, who will have to pay for polluting the canal.
When asked what will happen if the polluters do not pay, Carr stated: "We continue to hope for cooperation." He did make clear, however,  that non-complience would lead to serious monetary fines.
Christos Tsiamis added:  "The ROD is a final decision.  It is the law.  It will be followed."

New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery stopped by the meeting briefly and addressed the CAG. " There is a lot of community involvement taking place here. I am honored to see it with my own eyes."




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