Janet Babin, Host, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a host and reporter at WNYC.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its proposal to clean up the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.
The 1.8 mile waterway was declared a federal Superfund Site in 2010.
The $467 to $504-million dollar cleanup proposal outlines mediation steps that include dredging the canal’s sediment to remove pollutants like PCBs and heavy metals that have accumulated for decades.
The bottom of the canal would then be capped with a membrane and layers of gravel and sand, so that native species could repopulate the canal.
“The objective is not only to clean up the canal but to put a cap down that would allow for the restoration of some native species, both animal and fauna,” said Natalie Loney, EPA Community Involvement Coordinator.
The EPA plan also includes plans to prevent raw sewage from seeping into the canal during heavy rains.
Money for the cleanup is initially provided by the federal government. The EPA then attempts to recoup funds from companies that have been identified as the original polluters of the canal.
A full list of firms that the EPA has identified as potentially liable can be found here. The list includes the City of New York and the U.S. Postal Service.
The public will get the chance to weigh in on the EPA plan next month. The EPA will hold public meetings on January 23, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at Public School 58, 330 Smith Street, Brooklyn and on January 24, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the NYCHA Miccio Community Center, 110 West 9th Street, Brooklyn to discuss the proposed plan and answer questions. The EPA will accept public comments on the proposal until March 28, 2013.
“This is a significant step that people in the community have been waiting for. I expect to see people eager and enthusiastic to comment on it,” said Craig Hammerman, District Manager for Brooklyn Community Board 6.
Hammerman said that while there’s always contention surrounding the Gowanus Canal, he’s pleased that the community has a blueprint for moving forward.
“Absolutely without question, [the Gowanus Canal] will be cleaned up,” added Hammerman.