Thursday, April 19, 2012

Still Spinning: DEP At Wednesday Night's CB6 Meeting On Gowanus Clean-Up

Eileen Mahoney NYC DEP

NYC DEP Jim Muller
Gary Reilly, CB6  Environmental Committee Chair

Last night, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection gave a lengthy presentation in front of the Environmental Protection committee of Community Board 6 on the findings of the Environmental Protection Agency's Gowanus Canal Superfund investigation and Feasibility Study relating to the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSOs.)

Strangely, it felt as if DEP was giving the same presentation that EPA had given much more effectively to the community many times before.  But it quickly became clear that the agency's agenda was very different from the EPA's.
Named a Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) by the EPA for its role in contributing hazardous toxins to the canal and for allowing CSOs to continue to discharge into the Gowanus,  New York City is still refusing to accept its obligation under Superfund.  Instead, the City is stalling for time by any means possible.

During the presentation, DEP representative Eileen Mahoney and Jim Mueller spoke of the difference between the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund program and the Clean Water Act. 
CERCLA gives the EPA the power to regulate hazardous toxins that can cause harm to human health or to the environment, but it does not regulate bacteria and dissolved oxygen levels, which are regulated under the Clean Water Act under the authority of New York State. 

Mahoney and Mueller told the audience that the City recognizes that CSOs need to be addressed, but
according to DEP, it has not yet been determined that the CSOs are contributing chemicals to the canal at levels that constitute unacceptable risks under CERCLA.
"The first step that you  have to demonstrate before you are going to propose a remedy for the CSOs is that you have to identify that there is a problem.  We have not actually gotten to that point for chemicals yet.  The EPA has not yet proven that."

Mahoney went so far as to cast doubt on EPA's scientific findings. "This is not a criticism of the EPA, but there were some technical problems." Mahoney added slyly. "There were inconsistencies with the methodology used by the EPA in certain tests. This called into question the [EPA's] results."
She continues: "If we go forward with a solution that is based on bad science. It won't get you a resolution to the problem." 

Bad science?  Really?  It would seem much more likely that the City, as a guilty party, is twisting the data to get away with doing as little as possible.  So far, the EPA is the only agency that has shown that they are committed to cleaning  up the Gowanus Canal.
All New York City has ever tried to do is to kick the problem down the road.   How very, very shameful.


Anonymous said...

The DEP presentation was a propaganda show.

And it would only be fair if Gary's CB6 club would allow all the other Superfund PRP"s to present their interpreted data to also claim they too aren't responsible for the problems their companies cause in the canal.

Anonymous said...

NYC DEP is spending $185M of our tax dollars to abate the sewer events in the Canal. The EPA wants to sue NYC (cost to taxpayers) because the Superfund is broke! Our sewer overflows are flushed out of the Superfund area so why should we have to pay for the Federal cleanup? Let's ask for some leadership in our Federal Government - remember this neglect by our elected Federal Reps in November.

A.M. said...

11:17 It is clear to me that your info and p.o.v. is askew and you are in denial of facts. The City is broke. The Superfund has already committed to addressing the canal. NYC is mandated by the Clean Water Act to try to abate sewer conditions - and only acted when they were pushed to do so. But that does not leave them off the hook. The City is still a PRP, and as such, it will be footing part of the clean-up bill.

Anonymous said...

Was at this boring meeting....from where I sat some our community board members were texting away and not paying attention. It felt like this meeting was another sad.
The DEP gave an extremely slow presentation so the time ran out for questions from the community...was this deliberate because they are PRPs?
I was disappointed with Gary to allow this. hope he is okay. whoever stole Gary's body please return!

roger c. said...

What a total disgrace.
I am disgusted.
Reilly has lost my vote even though he once seemed like an okay guy.
Lander has never been a Carroll Gardens guy. The Community Board? stacked forever by business people and friends of friends of pols.

Anonymous said...

11:17 has a good point. The EPAs Superfund is another fine on our City so of course the City will challenge the EPAs flawed science.

EPA makes up the rules as they go - remember they said the 9/11 air was safe to breathe!

The Clean Water Act was a nice goal but without funding, it is also just another tax on our City.

Those who support the EPA should be asking for the elected officials to taget more Federal taxes against us. NYC already pays far more in tax than we receive in benefits!