$100M Agreement Reached on Gowanus Canal Cleanup

Image source: Gowanus Canal Conservancy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday announced a $100 million agreement with National Grid for cleanup of the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, New York.

The milestone settlement will support cleanup work near the head of the Gowanus Canal, including the cleanup and restoration of Thomas Greene Park, as well as the Douglass and DeGraw Pool.

This agreement will enable the remediation and revitalization of a heavily contaminated waterway and one of the neighborhood’s most popular recreational areas,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Under this settlement, National Grid will, among other obligations:

  • Build a sealed bulkhead/barrier wall on the east side of the Canal between Butler and Union Streets to prevent coal tar from spreading to the Canal and to support dredging;
  • Address contamination at the Thomas Greene Park through excavation and mixing cement into contaminated soil (a process called solidification) to permanently lock up coal tar and other contaminants;
  • Design, site, and construct a temporary swimming pool to operate while the park is closed; and
  • Design and permanently replace the pool and impacted park areas.

Background: Overall Gowanus Canal Cleanup

The area underneath Thomas Greene Park is contaminated with coal tar. The Park is one of eight parcels that are part of the New York state-designated Former Fulton Manufactured Gas Plant Site, many parts of which are being addressed under a separate agreement between the state and National Grid.

More than a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy metals, including mercury, lead, and copper, were found at high levels in the sediment in the Gowanus Canal. PAHs and heavy metals were also found in the canal water.

The final cleanup plan of the Gowanus Canal Superfund site includes dredging to remove contaminated sediment from the bottom of the Canal, which has accumulated because of industrial and sewer discharges.

The dredged areas will then be capped. The plan also includes controls to reduce CSO discharges and other land-based sources of pollution from compromising the cleanup.

The engineering design work for the project will be completed shortly after the conclusion of a current dredging and capping pilot taking place in the 4th Street Turning Basin.

EPA expects that the implementation of the final remedy will be covered by a future agreement with, or order by, EPA. Full-scale dredging of the remainder of the Canal is expected to start in 2020.

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