April 8, 2009
Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal Proposed for Federal Superfund List
NEW YORK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today nominated the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn as a federal Superfund site, an important step that could bring vital new funding to the clean-up of this long polluted waterway. Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) said that Superfund designation could help to revitalize and improve the canal for residents of Brooklyn.
“The Gowanus Canal can lead the way for a green future in Brooklyn. By eliminating decades-old contamination, we can reinvent the canal to bring new economic development and provide a healthy environment for families who call South Brooklyn home,” Velázquez said.
Over the past decade, Congresswoman Velázquez has worked to clean-up the canal and bring sustainable development to the area. She has secured more than $2 million in federal funding for the Gowanus Canal and Bay Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study to identify the best approach for restoring the canal. The study is being conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) to assess current environmental problems. Data collected during this study is being used by the EPA to fully understand and evaluate the extent of contamination.
“The Superfund nomination is an important step toward reclaiming the canal for valuable community development, and restoring contaminated waters to health,” said Velázquez. “Still, as the EPA moves forward, we must be careful that the interests of local residents and the community are considered and protected every step of the way.”
The Superfund program is the federal government’s principal program to clean up the nation’s hazardous waste sites that endanger public health and the environment. Now that the Gowanus canal has been nominated for Superfund status, it is listed in the Federal Register and a 60-day public comment period is initiated. Following that, a final decision will be made as to whether the site is eligible to be placed on the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is used by EPA to steer resources to sites for clean-up assistance.
“The collaboration and hard work of community groups has gotten us this far, and, by continuing to work together, we can clean up the Gowanus canal for Brooklyn’s residents. I will be working with the EPA, as well as state and local agencies, to help ensure the canal is restored in a way that protects the neighborhood,” Velázquez said.