The EPA hosted a Public Meeting Thursday night in Red Hook, facilitating an open forum to ask questions and state concerns for the Proposed Plan to clean up the Gowanus Canal. The Canal was declared a Superfund site in 2010, and has been contaminated for long over a century before then; needless to say, the Conservancy is itching to get this process started.

The Preferred Remedy will only be passed with Community Acceptance–thus the Conservancy urges everyone to look over the document. The public commenting period will last until March 28th, and can be addressed to:

Christos Tsiamis
Remedial Project Manager
Central New York Remediation Section
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 20th Floor
New York, New York 10007-1886

If you prefer, you can also email comments/questions to the Conservancy at We will be submitting our own formal comments and are interested in additional input from the Conservancy’s constituency.

During the Public Meeting, the EPA representatives distilled the roughly 40 page document into a short presentation outlining the 7 Remedial alternatives, which involve sediment dredging and capping. They additionally addressed source controls of discharges from Manufactured Gas Plants (MGPs), Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), contaminated groundwater, and from unpermitted pipes.

The EPA highlighted human health risks associated with exposure to Canal waters, including touching or ingesting it (please DON’T do this). These include unacceptable risks to human health from being in contact with PAHs in sediments, ingesting fish and crabs that live in or have visited canals (PCBs), and spreading sediments from storm surges.

The presentation can be found on the EPA’s website here, and is chock-full of helpful visuals.

The Canal has been divided into 3 Remediation Target Areas (RTAs): the Upper, Middle, and Lower. Each of the areas will require different methods of remediation, as the extent of their contaminants varies.

Courtesy: EPA; Closer look at the map here.















Overall, 600,000 cubic yards of contaminated material will be removed, treated, and disposed. More details about disposal and treatment methods can be found on page 22 of the Proposed Plan.Here is a photo of National Grid taking sediment samples back in December 2012:












National Grid and the City of New York are two of the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) among 20 others. Together, they foot most of the $500 million cleanup bill.

The Conservancy is hopeful for a thorough and sustainable remedy, especially in terms of CSO mitigation and removal. We look forward to input from the Conservancy constituency, and will continue to keep a close eye on the process.