Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cheers And Thanks For EPA Region 2 As Team Presents Proposed Clean-Up Plan For Gowanus Canal

Natalie Loney, EPA Region 2 Community Involvement Coordinator addressing audience
EPA's Christos Tsiamis, Walter Mugdan and Judith Enck
EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck
Christos Tsiamis, Remedial Project Manager for the Gowanus Canal
Walter Mugdan, EPA Region 2's,
Director of the Division of Environmental Planning and ProtectionIMG_1278
Patty White, geologist for CH2MHillIMG_1281
Potential location for Confined Disposal Facility in Red Hook

Cheers and thanks from a grateful community greeted the Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 team last night as they presented their Proposed Plan for the clean-up of the heavily polluted Gowanus Canal at the first of two public meetings.
The praise for the agency was well deserved.
Not only has EPA Region 2 been transparent from the start, kept to its original timeline, and has stayed in constant communication since the Gowanus Canal was placed on the National Priorities list in March 2010,  it has designed a plan that delivers everything that the community asked for.
As one resident stated last night, "the Agency went above and beyond the call of duty."

The remedy proposed by EPA includes:

*Dredging, stabilizing and capping
Dredging of all soft sediment at the bottom of the canal
In -situ stabilization of target areas and native sediment
Capping the bottom of the canal with a three-layer cap

*Source control at the three major upland Manufactured Gas Plant sites along the canal.  The remedy for the MGP site at Public Place, will include a cut-off wall between the site and the canal, removal of major mobile coal tar sources, and recovery wells near cut-off wall.
Remedies for the Fulton and Metropolitan sites will be similar.
The work will be performed by National Grid under the supervision of NYS Department Of Environmental Conservation and will be coordinated with EPA's clean-up

*Control CSO discharges at two major outfalls and includes in-line retention tanks at the Fulton former MGP site and at the Salt Lot at the end of 2nd Avenue.  Both sites are owned by the City of New York.
The cost of the tanks are estimated to be about $78 million.

*Unpermitted pipe discharge:  EPA will coordinate with NYC DEP and NYC DEC to seal the 12 identified pipes in question.  The anticipated cost will be minimal.

*Excavation and restoration of the 1st Street Basin, which was illegally filled  in the 1950's

The preferred remedy for the treatment and disposal of the dredged sediment 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).
One such potential CDF site has been identified in Red Hook.

The cost for the remedy will be in the range of $467-504 million and will be assumed by the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs).  New York City and National Grid  have been identified as the most significant PRPs.
Treatment and disposal of the dredged material will cost from $179 to $ 216 million
That cost assumes that sediment from the lower canal ( RTA 3) undergoes on-site stabilization and disposal in an on-site CDF.
If off-site stabilization and beneficial use is selected, the cost will increase by $37 million.

The EPA Plan is contingent on both State and Public acceptance.  On December 2012, New York State concurred with the proposed remedy.

A second public meeting will take place in Red Hook tonight at 7 PM at the Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110 West 9th Street.
Public comments on its proposed plan will be accepted until March 28, 2013 and should be addressed to:

Christos Tsiamis
Project Manager
Central New York Remediation Section
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 20th Floor
New York, New York 10007-1866
OR, contact Natalie Loney, Community Involvement Coordinator, at 212-637-3639

The final remedy will be selected by the summer of 2013 and the remedial design will be completed by 2016.  The completion date for the clean-up is 2022.

To access the EPA’s proposed plan for the Gowanus Canal site or for more information on the canal, visit or visit the EPA’s document repositories at the Carroll Gardens Library at 396 Clinton St. in Brooklyn or the Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110 West 9th Street, Brooklyn.


Anonymous said...

Don't bother with sending comments as the EPA ignores them anyway. We are still waiting for a response to comments sent in 2009 during the scoping period.

It is positive to hear EPA is "keeping to its original timeline" of 10 years and we'll have the Canal cleaned in 2020! Can we get that in writing?

Will the EPA also conduct the annual maintenance dredging after 2020 as the Canal will continue to receive contamination during almost every rainfall? Is that included in the $504mm budget?

After our City pays the $78mm fine, are we protected from future EPA superfines and escalation costs or will the EPA levy more fines if they can't manage their project budget?

$78mm is an small price tag as our City is already spending $270mm on pump upgrades and the post-2020 shoreline residential development boom will generate plenty of tax revenue but the EPA should be held to their deadline if NYC pays this fine.

Unfortunately, the Superfund program has a poor performance history so we need to hold EPA accountable.

Anonymous said...

Hello Fellow Red Hookers!

We went to a meeting last night held by the EPA for local residents pertaining to the Gowanus Canal clean-up and how it will potentially affect Red Hook.
There was not a huge turn out from the local residents so if you haven't made it to one of the meetings, this is the low-down:

Basically they want to move a large portion of toxic sludge from the Gowanus and store it over by the old grain terminal on Columbia St, create a plant to treat it until it is no longer toxic, then fill in one of the basins of water with the stuff to create more land. The land would be owned by the guy who owns the grain terminal property (and it was not said what he intends to do with it).

The biggest issue that was raised was that the transition from toxic to non-toxic takes YEARS...and they are STORING AND WORKING WITH TOXIC MATERIALS IN A FLOOD ZONE.
Add increased truck traffic and dust to this...and the fact that it right across from the Ball Fields where hundreds of children play....

If you are a property owner you should know that NO insurance covers toxic clean-up...if there is a flood and it washes up, you're on your own, and if not cleaned properly could result in your home being condemned. After Sandy we all know the probability that Red Hook will flood again.

They say that it will create jobs for Red Hook'ers (they don't seem to be able to be specific about what kind), but it's hard to believe since the work is being bid by several contractors regardless of location and staff (and the job of course goes to the lowest bid). Even if it creates some jobs it's hardly worth the risk to the community.

There is no record of something like this being previously done, so it's a dangerous experiment in a densely populated area. There are other options open to them (such as moving the materials to be treated OFF SITE!), but they are pushing for this proposition because it is more cost effective for them.

They save money, the Gowanus Canal will get cleaned, but Red Hook will get stuck with the sludge.There are risks to their proposal, little or no benefit to Red Hook, and they will fill in more of our waterfront to boot.

Although they have been scarcely advertised there are more meetings coming up in February (11th and 13th), the locations of which should be listed on the EPA site as it gets closer to the date.

This is only a very rudimentary explanation of their plan so PLEASE read more at the EPA website:


Snail: Christos Tsiamis
Project Manager
Central NY Remediation Section
US Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway 20th Fl
New York, NY 10007-1866

I would like to strongly urge you to make your voice heard.
Red Hook so far has had very little presence at these meetings considering the size of our population. Please don't let them count on us being in the dark!
Can you imagine any other community allowing something like this??
And please pass this along if you know others in the area with an interest in the matter.
Thank you!
(getting off my soap box)

Gowanus Canal Superfund Site | Region 2 | US EPA
The EPA will hold public meetings on January 23, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. at Public School 58 (the Carroll School), 330 Smith Street, Brooklyn and on January 24, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110 West 9th Street, Brooklyn to discuss the proposed plan and answer questions.
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Gowanus Canal Superfund Site | Region 2 | US EPA
The EPA will hold public meetings on January 23, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. at Public School 58 (the Carroll School), 330 Smith Street, Brooklyn and on January 24, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110 West 9th Street, Brooklyn to discuss the proposed plan and answer questions.

Anonymous said...

A few questions to ponder as we sing EPA praises...where is it that EPA superfund has any track record of handling overflows? how is it possible for EPA superfund managerd to come up with a plan that cost only $78 million and makes all the overflows disappear? why wold the city DEP sewer experts spend over 150 million on the existing pump project only to find out from EPA that the problem could all go away for half that?? where has EPA ever remediatied such a large site abywhere in the country on this timetimeatable?

C.G. Family since before St. Agnes was built said...

::SIGH:: Doesn't anyone remember the sharp rise in Carroll Gardens Cancer Rates the last time they dreddged the canal.

I know it would make things shallow-er, BUT they should go right to the CAP phase and skip the dredge phase.