USA: Riverkeeper Supports EPA’s Gowanus Cleanup Plan

Riverkeeper supports the EPA’s proposed plan to clean up the Gowanus Canal Superfund site and commends the agency for addressing the importance of reducing combined sewage overflows (CSOs) in addition to dredging the sediment at the bottom of the canal for proper remediation of the waterway.

We’re pleased with the direction the EPA has taken,” said Josh Verleun, Riverkeeper Staff Attorney and Chief Investigator. “Overall we support EPA’s plan and their continued position that controlling CSOs is an essential part of the Gowanus canal cleanup. Development of the additional controls that would reduce CSOs by 58 – 74% is a significant step forward.”

The EPA’s plan will address concerns raised by Riverkeeper from its history of patrolling the polluted Canal and ongoing reporting of widespread contamination, open dumping and continuing sewage discharges by New York City.

The EPA’s plan calls for a comprehensive cleanup to address the many decade’s worth of toxic sludge at the Canal’s bottom, ongoing pollution from upland sites, and CSOs. While the EPA’s plan takes the critical step of calling for CSO retention for two of the Canal’s worst outfalls, many details will not be solidified until New York City submits their CSO Long Term Control Plan in 2015. It is critical for the EPA, New York State, and New York City to work together towards the eventual goal of 100% elimination of CSOs from the Canal.

Phillip Musegaas, Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program Director, added: “We fully support the EPA’s all inclusive approach to cleaning up the Gowanus Canal. This reinforces Riverkeeper’s 10 years of ongoing efforts to restore New York City’s waters to fishable, swimmable status as required by the Clean Water Act.”

As a member of the Community Action Advisory Group (CAG) for the Gowanus Canal, Riverkeeper believes that a transparent public process has been and continues to be critical to developing a successful cleanup plan. We encourage our members to join Riverkeeper at one of two public meetings on the cleanup plan, and to submit written comments to the EPA by March 28th.

Riverkeeper has been actively pushing for a cleanup of the Gowanus Canal for years, and was instrumental in getting the Newtown Creek, another highly polluted Brooklyn waterbody, listed for federal Superfund cleanup. Together, these cleanups will provide unprecedented opportunities for people and wildlife in some of the nation’s most densely populated neighborhoods. Through routine water quality sampling, investigation and enforcement of polluters, Riverkeeper also extends its traditional patrol work on the Hudson to these and other tributaries.

Proposed Plan

Press Release, December 31, 2012

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