Thursday, June 11, 2009

Councilman Bill De Blasio Still Pushing City's Alternative To Gowanus Superfund Listing


EPA Funding Letter041
Well, you have to hand it to our Councilman Bill de Blasio. He is hanging in there with his position that the city can do a better, faster job cleaning the Gowanus Canal than the Environmental Protection Agency.

Since he came out against the Superfund designation, he has not deviated from that position,though it seems rather clear that a large number of his constituents in Gowanus/Carroll Gardens are for the designation.

The letter above is his second one to the EPA regarding the listing of the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund Site. In his first letter in April, he asked the agency to answer a number of his concerns about the Superfund, such as timing, funding and litigation.
He also wanted to know exactly how polluted and dangerous the canal really was, a concern that he did nor seem to have when he supported the spot-rezoning of the Toll Brothers' Gowanus site from manufacturing to residential.

George Pavlou, EPA Acting Regional Administrator, send the Councilmember a long, detailed letter back at the end of May. Mr. Pavlou writes:
"Please be assured that we share your desire to clean up the Gowanus Canal as expeditiously as possible. We believe that because of EPA's singularly powerful enforcement authority and almost three decades of experience addressing hazardous waste sites, including a number of sites with sediment contamination in EPA Region 2 alone, placing the Gowanus Canal on the NPL will greatly facilitate, not encumber, that goal. Superfund investigatory and cleanup actions need not slow or impede any of the ongoing efforts to restore and redevelop the area around the canal, since all of the necessary work can take place in tandem."
Obviously, that was not enough assurance for de Blasio. He sent a second letter on June 9th, expressing further questions about funding for the clean-up. He writes:
"My greatest concern is whether there are available resources to fully fund a timely clean up of the canal. At the recent EPA presentation given to the Community Board 6, Walter Mugdan, Director of Emergency & Remedial Response Division of the EPA, noted that the Superfund program is provided a total of approximately $300 million annually to help fund clean(ing) for over 1,200 sites. Almost all of the funds are already devoted to sites that do not have any Potentially Responsible Parties (PRP's) and the EPA has yet to clarify how much, if any, of these funds will be provided to the Gowanus Canal clean-up. I am additionally concerned given the fact a clean-up of the Gowanus Canal will cost appropriately $400 million to complete, which is $100 million more than all the available funding for the nation's Superfund program per year.
The EPA is an enforcement-first agency and must, therefore, investigate to find every PRP before requiring them to comply with the clean-up. While it is possible that the PRP's will voluntarily agree to the clean-up, I am concerned that the litigious nature of similar clean-ups at the Hudson and Passaic Rivers point to delays for this project as well. These delays can be potentially avoided by using the city's plan. 
We are both striving to reach the same goal to clean the Gowanus Canal up to EPA standards as soon as possible. Since I do not anticipate that exploring the City's proposal would delay the Superfund time line, I hope that the EPA will consider the City's plan and any other method for securing the necessary funding to address the clean up. My office will be reaching out to members of Congress to lobby for additional funding to support this critical clean up in a way that keeps our community whole and safe."
De Blasio's suggestion that EPA should continue to consider the city's plan is peculiar, considering that the city has yet to come up with a clear plan.
So far, the two presentations given by the city have been mediocre at best and leave more questions than they answer.

If de Blasio is so concerned about delaying the clean-up, may I suggest he move out of the way and let the EPA do its job?
The federal agency has already told him politely in their letter, that they have the experience, the science, the tools and the enforcement power to do the job.
The city does not.


Lisanne said...

Oh please Bill, just give it up. The EPA is ready to go and we are supposed to WAIT for the city to get it together? Meanwhile the city is closing libraries, has a hiring freeze in the schools, eliminating MTA employees, raising transit fares and we are supposed to TRUST that the city will do the same job as the EPA that just got infused with Obama job stimulus money?

Also this "what's the hurry" mantra smacks of affiliation of that group, "Clean Gowanus Now" which backed by the Toll Brothers amongst others and other self interested parties.

"What's the hurry?" There is a hurry, the city has ignored this body of water for decades, once given permission to clean, will they ignore if for a few more? The community deserves better. Shame on you.

Anonymous said...

This is outrageous. Only a small section of the canal is within Bill's district, the majority of the canal is in Sarah Gonzalez's district with the remainder in Yassky's. Does Bill speak for Sarah Gonzlazes' constituents? I bet many of them are not even aware what is going on.
If this is how Bill feels about the superfund and if he truly believes, despite the FACTS, that living along the canal is safe, he is unfit to be public advocate. It may be that de Blasio is doing the bidding of the Brooklyn political machine which is pathetic and also doesn't bode well should he be elected.
Bill, stay out of the way - we want the EPA!

Go Norm!

Anonymous said...

Thank you to PMFA for bring this letter out into the open. It helps for a community to know what is on our represenative's minds and how they opperate.

Anonymous said...

If I were Bill De blasio I would forgoe this will come back to haunt his campaign as public advocate. It is becoming very clear that Mr. De blasio is in the pockets of others rather than working to advance the interests of his representive district.

De blasio would have found a great appointment inside the Bush administration, one would suspect. Poor public policy coupled with fantastic media spinning.

Anonymous said...

Let the EPA do it's job? Like how it let the Hudson River sit for 25 years (because it has no money) before it started cleaning that site or how it let the Passaic River sit even longer (because it has no money). Yes, let's let the Gowanus sit in its own human feces for the next two decades while the EPA "does its job."

Anonymous said...

How can this guy Mr. DeBlassio, thin that he if fit to by the NYC Public Advocate? The only thing that he knows how to advocate for is the large developers like Toll Brothers! How can one who repeatedly puts the needs of this one industry above all other needs of a community--especially public health, function in a position of Public Advocacy?

Eric McClure said...

Anonymous @ 12:01 a.m.,

The Hudson River argument is a complete canard.

The clean-up of the Hudson was fought for years and years by General Electric, which ranks among the wealthiest corporations in the world. There is no Potentially Responsible Party along the Gowanus that would have the resources to fight that way. Nor would any party be on the hook for what GE faced.

You know and I know that this is all about real estate developers and their allies vs. residents.

If the city has money burning a hole in its pocket, let them fix the sewage problem. If they can stop the overflows, and the EPA can clean the toxins, the Gowanus might have a chance of a relatively healthy future.

-Eric McClure, PSN

Anonymous said...

Sarah Gonzlazes and her constituents might be aware if she actually showed up to work!

She has the worst attendance record in Council history.

Plow to Plate said...

How can DeBlasio have the audacity to run for public advocate when he clearly does NOT advocate for what the public has expressed it wants? SUPERFUND! Please Bill, if you ever expect to have any credibility at all, stop being the mouthpiece of the big developers. And do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I am now speaking about how you made sure you protected your neck of the woods (Park Slope) from developers' overdevelopment visions, only to shove them down everyone else's throats!

Anonymous said...

This is outrageous. and this Councilman put shady charcters on Commuity Boards he can't be trusted to try to help the people of the nyc he wants to be Public advocate do you thinks he wants to help hell no vote him out It is becoming very clear that Mr. De blasio is in the pockets of others rather than working to advance the interests of his representive district.We have to vote him out because he would never help the public on any issues when he can't gain let questions Marty,s support for backing him It's time for change with these council's members
Vote them out in