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Brooklyn Downtown Star


Army Corps' Gowanus Canal study receives federal boost

By Daniel Bush

July 21, 2009

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved an additional $300,000 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue its study of the Gowanus Canal.

The funding, approved July 17, will continue an existing, $5 million Army Corps ecosystem remediation feasibility study that was started in 2001 to assess the extent of the canal's pollution.

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who has secured $2.1 million so far for the project, worked to include the recent allocation in the fiscal year 2010 Water Development Appropriations bill.

"The Army Corps has made significant progress in determining the extent of contamination at the Gowanus Canal, and this information has played a critical role in developing plans for clean-up and habitat restoration," Velazquez said in a statement.

"I am working to bring the resources needed to complete this study and move on to the next step in the process."

That step could involve a Superfund cleanup, if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chooses to place the site on its National Priorities List.

The city is opposed to a Superfund listing, and has proposed an alternative approach.

Following an intense, three-month debate between federal and city officials with community stakeholders weighing in, the EPA ended its public comment period July 8. The earliest the EPA could Superfund the site would be this September.

“The residents of Southwest Brooklyn deserve a healthy environment to live, work and raise their families," Velazquez said. "The Army Corps study is playing an important role in promoting a clean future for neighbors of the Gowanus Canal."

The House Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill will now move to the Senate for approval.