Friday, June 09, 2017

Delegation From Vietnam Visits The Gowanus Canal To Learn About EPA Superfund Site Cleanups

EPA's Gowanus Canal Remedial Project Manager Christos Tsiamis 
and EPA Legal Council Brian Carr
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Natalie Loney (center) 
with Melissa Dimas, EPA Regional Manager of the International Affairs Program (left) and Tsiamis

This past Thursday, June 8th, I was invited by the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 2 team responsible for the clean-up go the Gowanus Canal to join a tour of the Superfund site with high ranking officials, environmental scientists and engineers from the Environmental division of the Ministry of Defense of Vietnam.
Vietnam is facing severe environmental issues, many of which are due to the Vietnam War. They have gotten assistance from the U.S. EPA to address some of these problems.
The trip to the Gowanus was a way to better understand environmental clean-up methods and techniques employed in the United States.
The delegation was given an overview of the Gowanus Canal's history as an industrial waterway, the resulting environmental issues and the proposed clean-up plan by EPA Region 2's Remedial Project Manager Christos Tsiamis.
As part of the tour, the officials were shown the 4th Street Turning Basin, located near Third Avenue, next to the Gowanus Whole Food store. A debris removal Pilot Project was conducted at the basin in 2016, which will be followed by dredging of toxic material at this site. Tsiamis explained that the pilot project and the dredging at the 4th Street basin will allow EPA to fine tune the different techniques that will eventually be applied to the clean-up of the entire canal.

Here is some additional information on the visit from EPA Headquarters:
"On Monday, June 5th, Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA), Office of Research And Development (ORD), and Office of Land and Environmental Management (OLEM) met with a high-level delegation from the Vietnam Ministry of National Defense (MND) that is responsible for dioxin remediation at Da Nang and Bien Hoa airports in Vietnam. This visit follows on the May 31st meeting between the Vietnamese Prime Minister and the President, in which they committed to work together to address war legacy issues, including completing dioxin remediation at Da Nang Airport and intent to discuss continued collaboration at Bien Hoa Airport

Over the last several years, EPA, in partnership with USAID, has provided technical assistance to the Vietnamese government to remediate dioxin contaminated soils at the Da Nang Airport. This project is expected to be successfully completed this year.

MND requested EPA technical assistance at Bien Hoa, a larger and more complex site than Da Nang. During the visit, EPA provided information on the Superfund program (including community involvement), remediation of persistent organic pollutants, and options for dioxin risk reduction. From Washington DC, the delegation is traveling to Regions 2 and 3 to visit Superfund site cleanups."

As always, I would like to thank the EPA Region 2 team for allowing me to document the visit for the community.  It is truly fascinating how much international interest the Gowanus Canal continues to generate.

To read about similar Gowanus visits by international delegations, click on the links below.


Jim said...

EPA Superfund site cleanup? Of the Gowanus Canal? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Anonymous said...

Vietnam environmental pollution--legacy of Agent Orangeman, LBJ, and the US military. Someone remind me of why "we" were in Vietnam....

Becky said...

EPA Alert from the Alt National Park Service on Facebook:
"This past May EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a memorandum insisting he be personally involved in decisions regarding Superfund cleanups that cost $50 million or more. Now we might know why he made that move. As noted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), one of Pruitt's first acts under the memo was tabling an October 2016 EPA order that General Electric (GE) spend $613 million to remove PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) that the company's plant in Pittsfield dumped into the Housatonic River in western Massachusetts from the 1930s to the 1970s."