Monday, June 29, 2009

Senator Montgomery's Gowanus Canal Superfund Fact Sheet


Thanks to Jim Vogel of State Senator Velmanette Montgomery's office, for pointing me to the Senator's Gowanus Listing Fact Sheet which her office distributed last week at a meeting on the City's half-baked alternative clean-up plan.

I have been incredibly impressed by Senator Montgomery. She was the first elected official to come out in favor of the EPA's proposed listing of the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site.
Her clear vision, outspokenness and williningness to listen to the community in this matter is very refreshing.
Below is her fact sheet.

“Superfund” is the easy name for a program the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses to clean the most polluted areas of our country. The NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation asked the EPA to consider listing the Gowanus Canal after finding the incredibly high degree of pollution in the area.

The level of pollution necessary for EPA Superfund listing is measured in “parts per million.” Heavy metals and certain other pollutants in the Gowanus Canal pollution registers in parts per HUNDRED. That’s 10,000 times more polluted than the lowest emergency listing! In addition, every time it rains raw sewage overflows into the canal. The bacteria count in a recent study is shocking, more than 25 times the unsafe level.

Land surrounding a clean, safe canal will be far more valuable. A thorough and expeditious cleanup will be the best thing for everyone!

Progress should be seen quickly once work starts, but the complete cleanup will take time. The cleanup has to be thorough and consistent or the canal will return to the current dangerous state. Federal designation commits the cleanup to professional, uninterrupted effort.

Superfund cleanups are funded by the people who caused the pollution.

The EPA believes much if not most of the cleanup will be the responsibility of National Grid.
*It won’t cost the community money.
*It won’t cost home owners money.
*It won’t cost new business owner money.
*The EPA has said it won’t cost New York City more money than they are already committed to spending.
The EPA starts work immediately from Federal funds set aside for this purpose.
*Congress budgets $320 million dollars annually for the Superfund
*An additional $600 million dollars has been allocated this year alone
*President Obama is reviving the funding stream that will place an additional billion dollars in the Superfund.
The EPA is ready to go!

New York City has proposed an alternative plan they believe will accomplish a similar clean canal, but the City is not in the business of cleaning toxic sites. While well meaning, the City plan is completely untested and contains questionable assumptions.
*The City plan depends on polluters voluntarily doing the work themselves, to their own standards; but these polluters haven’t done anything up to now.
*The City plan doesn’t intend to clean the whole canal, and a partial cleanup will not be safe.
*The City plan would need special Congressional approval for the Army Corps of Engineers to work on the entire Canal; they legally can’t go north of the Hamilton Avenue bridge!
*The City plan has no guarantees that the funding will actually happen; it relies on the idea that Congress will give substantial special money for years to come for this one project, which is very unlikely.
*The EPA has been doing this for decades and knows what it is doing. The EPA has said *Superfund listing will incorporate all City programs and not delay any efforts currently in progress. Superfund listing guarantees action in ways the City plan cannot.

The cleaning process itself will produce new, Green jobs. And a clean Gowanus Canal and vicinity will be a much better employment area!

Current plans for building housing in the Gowanus area would expose families to a life next to dangerous contamination. For the sake of all, the area must be thoroughly cleaned to Superfund standards so housing for all can be responsibly built.
The fact sheet can be downloaded from Senator Montgomery's web site here.

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Anonymous said...

Katia, please allow me to address a few of your assumptions:

1. Property values will increase: studies show that property values decrease substantially and then slowly increase back to their previous values. Then they rise in time, as most real estate does, gradually.

2. Homeowners won't pay: Smuggler Mountain -- Aspen, CO; This site is where mobile home owners were sued by the EPA because their trailers were located on the contaminated area.

3. Regarding the city being unfit for the job-- The City has a number of appointed officials that deal with environmental remediation. Moreover, the project managers that are responsible for putting together Superfund clean ups are not scientists, they just know how to contract and facilitate the remedial work. This doesn't take a genius and surely the City of New York has experienced personnel for the job. Most importantly, the EPA will set the clean up standards either way---therefore, there is nothing to worry about. The job will get done.

Anonymous said...

My gratitude goes to Senator Montgomery for her strong and consistent position on the superfund. Senator Montgomery has been the most logical of all our government officials. Too bad I am represented by the wishy washy Squadron whom I assume is wary of antagonizing the mayor too much (read mayoral control of the schools).

Margaret said...

Dear 2:46 Last time I looked, I did not see any mobile homes in Gowanus, so I think it is a non-issue whether mobile home owners will be sued by EPA for being on contaminated land. The EPA has assured homeowners that they will not be sued.
As far as the City having a number of officials that deal with environmental remediation, and that it "doesn't take a genius" to "contract and facilitate the remedial work". Well, obviously these non-genius City officials have been not-too-swift and asleep on the job - cuz they didn't do nothing/say nothing about the dangers to human health in the City's spot rezoning for Toll Brothers on toxic land/toxic water. The City has ZERO credibility for clean-up plans they propose, for the simple reason that they never cared about Gowanus until the EPA stepped in. And the ONLY reason they care now is NOT for the community, but for their DEVELOPER BUDDIES! And the City has NO EXPERIENCE with Superfund cleanup - the complexities of the procedures, the stages, the intricacies. Walter Mugdan of the EPA said that the City's plan is even more complicated than the EPAs - right there is an indication of how inept the City is - because the more complicated you make a thing, the more easily it will break down. Starting with the City thinking that polluters will actually VOLUNTEER to pay for clean up! Yeah, right.