Gowanus Canal dredging kicks off

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, NYS Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon and other dignitaries yesterday marked the start of dredging operations in the upper portion of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site in Brooklyn, New York.

This is a major milestone in the history of one of the nation’s most contaminated waterways, said EPA.

It is anticipated that the dredging in this portion of the Canal will be completed in fall 2022, with capping to be completed in mid-2023.

“Today we mark the official start of a historic cleanup to address a legacy of hazardous waste and urban pollution that dates back to the 1800s,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez.

“EPA’s partnership with local, state, and federal entities through constructive engagement and community engagement has been the hallmark of this successful collaboration. This achievement demonstrates the progress of the Superfund program and EPA’s commitment to protecting human health and the revitalization of the Gowanus and Red Hook communities.”

“We’ve come a long way to get where we are today. Full scale dredging is a welcome and long-awaited step toward full cleanup of the polluted Gowanus Canal,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.  

“Though this project is years from completion, we are on an ambitious timeline for cleanup of our first Superfund site in the City. I would like to extend my thanks to EPA and the community for their commitment to the health of our community. Together, we’ll achieve a cleaner city for years to come.” 

“The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group is deeply gratified that dredging of the upper portion of the canal is getting underway today,” added Founding Member Eric McClure.

“The start of dredging comes just over 10 years from the date of the first meeting of the Community Advisory Group, and many founding CAG members are still actively providing EPA with community input.”

The dredging and capping will take place in the upper canal – denominated as Remediation Target Area (RTA) 1 – which includes the 1st Street turning basin and a portion of the 5th Street turning basin.

The dredging comes after years of detailed engineering, scientific studies, and design work.

In preparation for the construction, a dock was installed at the end of Huntington Street and dredge and hopper barges started mobilizing to the Canal in October.

Photo: Gowanus Dredgers