USA: EPA Releases Draft Study for Gowanus Canal Cleanup

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft feasibility study for the Gowanus Canal, proposing a series of options for remediating the 1.8-mile long Brooklyn Superfund site. All of the remedial options, aside from a mandatory ‘no action’ alternative, involve a combination of dredging the canal’s sediment and reducing external sources of contamination, including sewage discharges from combined sewer overflows.

The EPA listed the Gowanus Canal on the Superfund National Priorities List in March 2010 and released a remedial investigation in early 2011 that reported elevated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls and metals. Parts of the environmental investigation of the areas surrounding the canal were performed by National Grid and New York City under administrative orders on consent with the EPA.

The draft feasibility study proposes dredging, treating and disposing approximately 588,000 cubic yards from the canal, at a projected cost of $351 million to $456 million. The EPA expects to release a proposed plan for its preferred remedy sometime in 2012.

In addition to assessing the dredging of the canal, the draft feasibility study states that “upland source controls“, including controls on combined sewer overflowsand stormwater discharges, “need to be coordinated and implemented in concert with the selected sediment remedy”. According to press reports, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection expressed concerns about the EPA’s combined sewer overflow control plans, stating that the “primary sources [of canal contamination] are the former industrial plants on the canal, and not ongoing sewer overflows”.


Dredging Today Staff, January 24, 2012;