Monday, September 22, 2014

From 86 To 14 Possible Locations: Deadline Nearing For DEP To Site CSO Retention Basins Mandated By EPA

NYC DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd
Angela Licata of NYC DEP
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EPA Region 2 Gowanus Canal site manager Christos Tsiamis, who attended the meeting, with DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd

By September 30th, 2014, New York City Department Of Environmental Protection (DEP) needs to submit to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a list of no more than two locations for each of the two retention tanks, which are components of the remedy selected in the Record of Decision for the Gowanus Canal Superfund site.
Along with the list, DEP also needs to including a summary report containing the basis for which locations were screened out and retained.

Construction of retention tanks is an important part of the remedial design. As per the EPA, the tanks are "combined sewer overflow (CSO) control measures for the upper reach of the Canal to significantly reduce overall contaminated solid discharges to the Canal."
The retention tanks will retain discharges from two of the largest outfalls in the canal, RH-034 and OH-007. 
According to the Federal Agency,"it is estimated that an 8-million gallon tank and a 4-million gallon tank shall be required to address CSOs from outfalls RH-034 and OH-007, respectively." 

The EPA had suggested two locations for those tanks in the ROD, but was willing to discuss alternative locations with the City during the remedial design period.

New York City responded by hired a consultant, who came up with a list of 86 possible sites along the Gowanus Canal, some, if not most of which could easily be dismissed outright. Obviously, this was a delaying tactic by the City.
This prompted the EPA to issue a Unilateral Order to compel New York City to get moving on siting and designing the tanks.

Which brings us to last Wednesday's public meeting with DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd at the Wyckoff Gardens Community Center in Gowanus.
Commissioner Lloyd began by giving a brief overview of DEP "commitments" in Gowanus, which include pump station and flushing tunnel upgrades at the head of the canal, the construction of high level storm sewers, and green infrastructure initiatives.

Loyd then gave a presentation on the possible sites for the EPA mandated CSO retention basins. "The DEP has narrowed down the original 86 sites to 14 sites," she told the community. She displayed maps of the sites still in the running, which include the Green Building on Union Street, and the site where the coal pockets were just removed, next to the new parol office currently being built  along the canal.

Among the proposed 14 locations were the two sites originally proposed by the EPA
It is important to note that some of the locations identified by DEP were actually just variations of each other, so that the current list of sites is much more like 6.  Take away the sites that are non-city owned and would need to be acquired, and one end up right back to the two sites proposed by EPA:
The Double D pool at Douglass Green Park and the Salt Lot as 2nd Avenue between 5th Street and the Canal.

After the presentation, Commissioner Lloyd took questions from the community.
My question to her: "How much money has the City spent on consulting fees to come up with the current list of 14 sites for the tank?" 
She could not answer.
However, a DEP representative I spoke to at the meeting told me that $50 million had been spent by his agency on consultants so far "to help us navigate the conversation with EPA."
The sum, if correct, is pretty astronomical.  But that does not seem to be the end of the expenses yet.

An engaged Gowanus community member just came across a Request for Services (RFP) in the tune of  $30,385,000 for a "Superfund Support Contract for the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek" which will run from 2015 to 2020. (see below)


Anonymous said...

The parole site was not included. The parcels next to it were, where the coal bins were.

Katia said...

Thanks for the clarification. I will correct the info in the post.

Rob said...

Wow, site 1 would sit literally under the Green Building.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a clue what this facility would be? This is crazy - the volume of waste trucks moving in / out of Gowanus neighborhood would be insane. To propose locations for a EPA mandated facility without describing the nature of what a site may look like is disingenuous. Let's demand some details from EPA of other facilities to show us what's being proposed for our neighborhood!

Anonymous said...

a retention tank is just a temporary storage tank for sewage and storm drainage when the treatment plant is overloaded during a storm. after the storm passes, the water just get pumped back into the regular sewer system. there would be no collection of waste here.