Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Takes Position That Total Elimination Of CSOs In Gowanus Canal Is Only Acceptable Solution To Problem. Passes Resolution.

At last night's US Environmental Protection Agency's Gowanus Canal Superfund Community Advisory Group's (GAG) general meeting,  members voted to adopt a resolution that asks for a total elimination of New York City's Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) into the waterway.
The resolution was drafted by the CAG's Water Quality/Technical Committee after an informational meeting with NYC Department Of Environmental Protection on April 3rd, 2012.  At that meeting, DEP, which has been names 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,  had refuted EPA's findings.
Despite DEP's best effort, the agency failed to convince the Committee members that more testing was necessary and that it had not yet been proven that the CSOs are contributing chemicals to the canal at levels that constitute unacceptable human risks under Superfund.

So last night, the Water Quality/Technical Committee put forth the following resolution:
The Gowanus Superfund Community Advisory Group fully supports the United States Environmental Protection Agency in its finding that New York City's Combines Sewer Overflows are a significant contributor of harmful sediment and Superfund regulated PAHs and metals to the canal. The CAG takes the position that the total elimination of the CSOs in the Gowanus Canal is the only acceptable solution to the problem.     The CAG asks that the EPA, under their Superfund authority, take the necessary measures that will insure protection of the proposed remedy from ongoing CSO sediment solids deposits and the release of PAHs and other toxics.
However, before a discussion or a vote on the resolution could take place, Jeff Edelstein, the CAG's facilitator, informed its members that DEP, represented by Jim Mueller, would like to present its position on the CSO resolution and wanted the opportunity to give members of the CAG a presentation.

Many CAG members strongly opposed.  Though some wanted to hear what the DEP had to say, the  prevailing sentiment, especially amongst members of the Water Quality/Technical Committee, was that this was neither the time, nor the place for DEP to argue its, as one member put it, its "PRPness"
CAG member 
Marlene Donnelly,  representing F.R.O.G.G. argued:
"The DEP did just have a lengthy meeting with the community. There was no representative from the EPA there to present an alternate perspective at that meeting. If we give DEP five minutes for a presentation tonight, we also need  to give EPA five minutes to present their perspective. Since they are not here to present. I think that it is inappropriate at this time to allow DEP time to present just their perspective without a counter- perspective."
Josh Verlun,  Riverkeeper's representative, agreed:
"I believe that it is inappropriate for DEP to impose their perspective on the resolution at this time unless we have representatives from both EPA and from all the other PRPs give their perspective as well. At last count, that number was 30 or so. It is not appropriate for one PRP to voice their opinion, when there are other agencies and stakeholders that are nor represented here tonight. "
Rita Miller, C.O.R.D. representative added:
"The DEP came before the Water Quality/Technical committee, and out of that discussion, I think it is fair to say that this resolution was born.  I think that our committee should be able to present the resolution to our fellow CAG members. We have the interest of our community at heart. There is no further presentation by the DEP necessary."
And Steven Miller, member-at-large concluded:
"I want to remind everyone here tonight that the City of New York is a PRP and that their interaction with us should be held within this context."

At the end, the CAG voted to not allow DEP to give its presentation and to move forward with the vote on the resolution.
The resolution passed easily.

It was so transparent that the DEP wanted to influence members of the CAG last night and was trying to prevent this resolution from passing.  Pretty low, I say.


Anonymous said...

If the group wouldn't let someone with a different perspective give a presentation, who is being low?

Katia said...

As a CAG member, I sat through a two hour informational meeting with DEP on April 3rd. I also listened to DEP's lengthy presentation in front of Community Board 6 last week.
I think the agency had ample opportunity to present their "different perspective."
The only reason why they wanted to give a 20 minute presentation before our vote last night was to continue to spin their 'creative' science and to influence the vote.

The CAG will continue to engage with the various agencies involved with the clean-up, but it should not allow PRPs to jump in, unannounced, whenever they want.

Anonymous said...

The resolution should have been to support the EPA findings (ie: lawsuits) against all PRPs and not single out the City Of New York. No discussion is needed. There's no need to hear from any PRP - why would the EPA ever lie?

Remember ... WTC air is clean & OK to breathe!

Anonymous said...

Sure sounds to me like since one party has a differing viewpoint (whether it is right or wrong is really immaterial) from the one that the majority of the CAG (a community ADVISORY group made up of bloggers, real estate agents and some retired folks, not scientists, lawyers or adjacent land owners) members hold, that the CAG felt it just to not allow the differing viewpoint to be heard.

Could you imagine the outrage if the City held a CSO hearing and the DEP or a community advocacy group weren't allowed to speak? This blog might literally explode!

Rob said...

So what does this mean? Will the city be forced to abide by this?

Anonymous said...


About 3-4 decades from now, a judge may rule that the EPA has conclusive evidence that our City caused the pollution in Canal sediment and then our tax dollars would be paid to the EPA.

Our Gowanus CAG endorses anything the EPA says as fact instead of servings as a community advisory group for the rest of us.

Katia said...

Anon, why don't you join the CAG?

Rob said...

I'd trust the EPA over the DEP who's defending their "river of shit" every time it rains.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure he or she would love to give up hours of their time to serve on a body that has no authority and is only funded so the Federal Government can feel good about themselves when they ultimately decide what to do, regardless of the CAG or TAG recommendations.