Wednesday, January 25, 2012

EPA Region 2 Presents Gowanus Canal Feasibility Study To Community

Walter Mugdan, EPA Region 2's, 

Director of the Division of Environmental Planning and Protection
Christos Tsiamis, EPA Region 2 project manager for the Gowanus Canal
Patty White, geologist for CH2MHill
Natalie Loney ,EPA Region 2 Community Involvement Coordinator
Brian Carr, EPA Region 2 lawyer

The Environmental Protection Agency's Region 2 team responsible for the Gowanus Canal Superfund clean-up hosted a public information meeting last night at PS 58 to present the Feasibility Study, which was released in late December 2011.
Walter Mugdan, Director of the Division of Environmental Planning and Protection, started the meeting by pointing out that his agency is on schedule. "This job is being done 2 or 3 times faster than it was plausible to expect, but the heavy lifting is yet to come, of course." he told the audience.
Mugdan praised the tremendous effort of the site's manager, Christos Tsiamis, who "is a stern task master. "  The audience gave Tsiamis a rousing round of applause.
Mugdan also acknowledged the very engaged members of the Community Advisory Group (CAG) for the Gowanus, the largest such group in the country.

Patricia White, geologist for CH2MHill, an independent contracting firm hired by the EPA, started off the presentation by reviewing background information about the site. She also explained the Feasibility Study process, which includes:
-Develop remedial action objectives
-develop preliminary remediation goals
-define remediation target areas
-identify and screen remedial technologies
-develop and screen remedial alternatives
-evaluate remedial alternatives in detail
White also pointed out that one of the key Feasibility Study consideration is re-contamination of the canal after the cl were source control from the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSOs) and storm water discharges, discharges from the three former MGP sites, contaminated groundwater discharge, street runoff and discharges from unpermitted pipes.
Christos Tsiamis took over the presentation to speak about the various technologies that were retained and combined into seven remedial alternatives and screened according to effectiveness, implementability and cost.
The sediment dredging and capping alternatives all include dredging of the highly polluted soft sediment at the bottom of the canal, but while some alternatives call for solidifying the top of the native sediment, and capping either with a two-layer cap or a three layer cap.
So far, alternatives 5 and 7 have been retained for further detailed evaluation.
The EPA is also currently evaluating the best treatment and disposal alternatives for the dredged sediment.
The alternatives include offsite disposal, offsite or onsite stabilization with beneficial use, thermal desorption, offsite cogeneration or offsite or onsite stabilization and disposal in a constructed Confined Disposal Facility (CDF)
Of course, Tsiamis pointed out, the Gowanus Canal cannot be cleaned effectively without eliminating the CSO discharges from New York City's sewer system as well as the coal tar oozing from the three National Grid MGP sites lining the canal. The CSO discharges "cannot go on from our perspective" Tsiamis stated.
New York City's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been given a schedule by DEP. Tsiamis will meet with the City to discuss this matter further in February.  ***It is important to note her that the City, one of the major Potentially Responsible Parties (PRP) has not yet signed a consent order to take responsibility of their part of the clean-up.

As for the former MGP sites, EPA is coordinating and prioritizing with National Grid, which is responsible for the clean-up and NYS Department Of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the agency in charge of overseeing the remediation of those sites. According to Walter Mugdan, DEC has been very aggressive in moving forward.
Walter Mugdan diplomatically added: "In due course, we hope that all the involved agencies will recognize what needs to be done."
The next step? A proposed remedy will be presented to the public in 6 to 8 months, and a remedy will be selected by the end of 2012.

Last night's EPA presentation can be viewed online here.

**In one final note, it was announced last night that the EPA Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) for the Gowanus Canal Superfund was awarded to Friends And Residents Of Greater Gowanus.Congratulations to Marlene Donnelly, Bette Stoltz, Linda Mariano, Margaret Maugenest and Diane Buxbaum and all the members of FROGG for their hard work on behalf of the community.


Anonymous said...

I love those diagrams!! Helpful in interpreting.
So, great about FROGG and the TAG grant. Did
They get the whole 50 grand??

Katia said...

I believe so, but will check with them.

Anonymous said...

FROGG will get the $50,000 TAG funds but FROGG is required to contribute an additional $12,000 from their own sources. The total amount goes to hiring a qualified technical assistant who will explain and answer questions about the EPA data and reports. A small portion of that funding will go to getting that information out into the community.

FROGG is accepting tax-delectable donations along with volunteers to help with collecting questions and disseminating information.
You can contact FROGG at

Katia said...

Thanks for the insight, FROGGs.

Anonymous said...

The Gowanus Canal will be re-contaminated every time it rains. The EPA should not spend any more funds on this and first help NYC mitigate our CSO discharge.

Who can we write to to have the EPA stop this nonsence of focusing on the wrong contamination exposure source? $50,000 could help mitigate one of our CSOs instead of being spent on some expert to explain the EPA nonsense.

Anonymous said...

If you remove the soft sediment from the Gowanus Canal, the bulkheads will collapse. Fist the EPA will need to drive new sheeting and then comence dredging.