EPA Region Two Designates Gowanus Canal as Superfund Site
On March 2, 2010, EPA’s Region Two office announced that the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn will be added to the superfund National Priorities List of the most hazardous U.S. waste sites. The listing was proposed in April 2009. The decision to list the heavily polluted industrial waterway, which runs through residential and commercial areas, was made despite an alternative plan offered by New York City officials and objections from some community members and the real estate developer Toll Brothers Inc.
According to the EPA, nine potentially responsible parties (PRPs) have been identified, and more are being sought. The energy utility National Grid is expected to be the first to settle, with an agreement on liability for natural gas plants expected by the end of March. Other PRPs include the City, the U.S. Navy, and Con Edison.
The canal, which is 1.8 miles long and 100 feet wide, has a long legacy of toxic pollution since it was built in the 1860s. It was lined with gas and coal facilities, chemical and concrete plants, oil refineries, and tanneries, and has been contaminated by untreated industrial waste, sewage, and runoff.
The designation followed meetings with government and elected officials, business representatives, representatives of civic organizations, and community members, as well as a review of more than 1,300 comments.