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EPA Reaches New Milestone in Cleanup of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site Cleanup

Jul 01, 2024

Issues Order to Require $369 Million Cleanup of Second Canal Section

NEW YORK  – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has amended its administrative cleanup order for the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, New York on June 27, 2024, to address the middle segment of the canal – known as Remediation Target Area (RTA) 2.

“Dredging and capping of the upper segment of the Gowanus Canal started in late 2020 and will be completed in July. This is a major milestone in cleaning up the canal and improving water quality,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “Together with the extensive dredging, capping, and bulkhead repair work that has already been completed, this order will ensure the cleanup of the next portion of the heavily contaminated Gowanus Canal, which will be a huge benefit to the Gowanus and Red Hook communities.”  

Dredging and capping of RTA 1, the upper segment of the Canal, started in late 2020 and will be completed in July. Initial RTA 2 work, which began in late June, includes access dredging to facilitate the mobilization and use of equipment needed to conduct work in this portion of the canal, followed by debris removal and bulkhead construction. The full-scale dredging and capping required by the newly amended order will follow. That work is estimated to cost $369 million and will take several years to complete. The detailed engineering and design work for RTA 2 was performed in parallel with the RTA 1 work to accelerate its progress. RTA 3, the lower segment of the Canal, is expected to be implemented after the completion of RTA2.

EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) are closely coordinating the cleanup of the Gowanus Canal and the surrounding area. EPA, NYSDEC, and the New York State Department of Health have been and will continue to oversee the work, which includes plans for community health and safety monitoring. The order amendment has been issued to six parties that EPA determined have the largest shares of responsibility for the contamination at the Gowanus Canal site: Brooklyn Union Gas Co. d/b/a National Grid New York; the City of New York; Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc.; Hess Corp.; Honeywell International Inc., and The Brooklyn Improvement Co.

More than a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy metals, including mercury, lead, and copper, are present at high levels in the Gowanus Canal sediments. The 2013 cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal Superfund site includes dredging to remove contaminated sediment from the bottom of the Canal that has accumulated because of industrial and combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges. Following dredging, construction of a multilayer cap in dredged areas will isolate and prevent migration of any remaining chemicals in the deep native sediment. Certain areas of the native sediment, below the original canal bottom, that contain mobile liquid tar and are too deep to excavate, will be mixed with cement and solidified to prevent the spread of the tar into the water of the Canal. Two CSO retention tanks are being constructed by the City of New York will prevent the hazardous substances found in CSO solids from re-contaminating the Canal. The current cost of the overall cleanup plan is estimated to be over $2 billion, including both the in-Canal work and CSO controls.

 

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Visit the Gowanus Canal Superfund site profile page for additional background and site documents.

Contact: Stephen McBay, (212)-637-3672, [email protected]

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