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EPA Advances Gowanus Canal Cleanup with $369 Million Order for Middle Segment Remediation



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

NEW YORK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the amendment of its administrative cleanup order for the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, New York, on June 27, 2024. The amendment addresses the cleanup of the canal’s middle segment, known as Remediation Target Area (RTA) 2, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing effort to remediate the heavily contaminated waterway.

“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.”

The cleanup of RTA 1, the canal’s upper segment, which began in late 2020, is set to be completed in July. Initial work on RTA 2, which started in late June, includes access dredging to facilitate the mobilization and use of necessary equipment, followed by debris removal and bulkhead construction. Full-scale dredging and capping for RTA 2 will follow, with an estimated cost of $369 million and several years of work ahead. The detailed engineering and design for RTA 2 were conducted simultaneously with RTA 1 to expedite the cleanup process. Remediation of RTA 3, the canal’s lower segment, will commence after the completion of RTA 2.

EPA, in collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the New York State Department of Health, is overseeing the cleanup efforts to ensure community health and safety. The amended order targets six parties deemed primarily responsible for the canal’s contamination: 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.

The Gowanus Canal sediments contain high levels of contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and copper. The 2013 cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal Superfund site involves dredging contaminated sediment and constructing a multilayer cap to isolate and prevent migration of any remaining chemicals. Areas with mobile liquid tar too deep to excavate will be mixed with cement to solidify and prevent further spread. Additionally, two combined sewer overflow (CSO) retention tanks, being constructed by the City of New York, will prevent hazardous substances from re-contaminating the canal. The overall cleanup plan is estimated to cost over $2 billion, including both in-canal work and CSO controls.

For more information, visit the Gowanus Canal Superfund site profile page.

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