Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"We Are Exactly Where We Want To Be": EPA Updates The Community On Gowanus Canal

Doug Sarno, EPA Gowanus Community Advisory Group facilitator
Christos Tsiamis, EPA Region 2 project manager for the Gowanus Canal addressing the CAG
Brian Carr, EPA Region 2 lawyer
Natalie Loney, EPA Region 2 Community Involvement Coordinator

Representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency were on hand at last night's Gowanus Canal Superfund Community Advisory Committee (CAG) meeting at Mary Star of the Sea Senior Center to give an update on upcoming activities on the Canal.
"We have made tremendous progress in the past few months. Right now, we are exactly where we want to be," Christos Tsiamis, EPA Region 2 project manager for the Gowanus Canal, told members of the CAG.
Starting this week, teams from National Grid , one of the Potential Responsible Parties (PRP) and EPA will be collecting additional data from the turn in the canal near Whole Foods to the 9th Street Bridge. The data will help identify mobility of the liquid tar at the bottom of the waterway and to more closely identify the areas where stabilization techniques will need to be used. 
As previously explained by the EPA, a cement-like capping material will need to be applied to some of the most polluted areas at the bottom of the canal to prevent the remaining contamination from coming in contact with aquatic life.
"We will have an almost continuous presence in that area from now till the summer. Most of the work will be done by National Grid contractors.  We will follow them with our contractors at the end of March.  The actual 'in situ' stabilization study in the basin will take place at the beginning of May," Tsiamis explained. 
The EPA will be using Public Place as a staging area for the work and a floating dock will be built right next to the site.

Negotiations between EPA and New York City, another PRP, has also progressed. As per the Gowanus Canal Superfund Record Of Decision released in September 2013, the City is responsible to build two holding tanks, one at the top of the canal, one in the middle of the canal near Whole Foods in order to reduce the Combined Sewer Overflow that gets dumped into the canal.
The City has submitted a siting report to EPA, identifying two sites for each location with an explanation for why those sites had been chosen and a ranking list by preference.
The City is obligated to give the EPA a final decision on the sites by the end of June 1015.
"We have read the report, met with the City on December 17th and had a very lengthy and frank discussion on the issues," said Tsiamis, and added: "They are very clear that we are very clear."
Further, "it was our assessment after meeting with them and looking at the information that we had, that  they have enough information to make the decision earlier. We told them that we would appreciate that, since it would advance the progress of the clean-up. They agreed to make the effort."

Under the Record of Decision, the City is also obligated to excavate and restore the First Street Basin, which had been filled in decades ago. Just recently, the City has hired the engineering firm AKRF to design the restoration plan that will be presented to the EPA for review. "That work is on schedule," according to Tsiamis.

The EPA has kept an eye on the environmental remediation work at both the Lightstone Group's residential development site between Carroll Street and Second Street adjacent to the canal, as well as at the Power House station, a.k.a the Bat Cave, where PCP contamination has been found.
"Both sites are under the supervision of the New York State Brownfield program, but [EPA's] concerns are different," Tsiamis told the CAG. "We want to make sure that no re-contamination enters the canal after its cleaned, so we have additional clean-up requirements for these sites, which we are in the process of communicating."

Christos Tsiamis also shared the good news that all three Gowanus bridges, which were damaged during Hurricane Sandy, will once again be operational by March 31, 2015.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Katia. It much be so hard to keep up with these Superfund community meetings (it has been a good number of years already). It means a lot to this community that you have not only taken the time to attend, but also share the informative highlights with everyone in the community, and on such a timely basis.

This ongoing generosity and outreach towards the Gowanus community at large is much appreciated.

Katia said...

Well, thank you, Anonymous. I do it because I know how important this information is to all residents in the area.