A statement from the EPA regarding cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy;
the Hurricane Sandy Sampling Results taken by the EPA;
and the NY State Sea Level Rise Report.
This information pertains directly to the Superfund designated Gowanus Canal that just flooded our community causing hardships for so many of us.
We do not think so! Please read below.
The Gowanus Canal is contaminated by PCBs, coal tar waste, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and bacteria from many years of industrial discharges, spills, storm water runoff and combined sewer overflows. The site was added to the federal EPA Superfund list of the nation's most contaminated sites in March 2010.
If you live near the Gowanus Canal and experienced flooding from the canal during the storm, there are simple steps to follow in cleaning up:
Remove or pump out standing water.
Use bleach to kill germs
Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles.
Open windows and doors to get fresh air when you use bleach.
Clean hard things with soap and water. Then clean with a mix of 1 cup of household liquid bleach in 5 gallons of water. Use bleach that does not have an added scent (like lemon). Scrub rough surfaces with a stiff brush and air dry.
If you don't have household liquid bleach, use soap and water.
NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners.
Samples of flood water from the ground floors of the two buildings were analyzed for bacteria and 139 different chemicals within the following categories: metals, volatile organic compounds, petroleum related compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds. Semi-volatile organic compound include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, which are the primary contaminants in Gowanus Canal sediment.
Levels of bacteria were high. While this type of bacteria becomes inactive over time, these findings reinforce the need for people to protect themselves when cleaning up flood waters that contain sewage and therefore contain bacteria. Fact sheets detailing the precautions people should take when cleaning flood waters can be found at http://www.epa.gov/sandy/.
The remaining four categories of pollutants were compared to health based values of drinking water quality. Chemicals that were tested were below levels of concern or not detected.
Low levels of gasoline and diesel derivatives were found, consistent with road run-off which often contains traces of fuel.
Levels of semi-volatile organic compounds were very low or not detected. These compounds include PAHs, which are a primary contaminant in the sediments at the bottom of the canal. The presence of some PAHs at low levels may also be related to spilled fuel and run off from asphalt.
Levels of most volatile organic compounds and metals were very low or not at levels that could be detected.
Levels of metals included some slight exceedances of drinking water standards. In the case of lead, its presence may be related to past lead usage in gasoline, typical to an urban environment.
Here are the complete results of the sampling
Storm surges and other flooding events can cause injury and death. They can also generate a host of more persistent environmental health hazards, including bacterial, fungal and chemical contamination of drinking water sources, sewage and solid waste system disruption, hazardous materials releases, and increased or displaced populations of insects, rodents and other disease vectors.
Typical land‐use planning and permitting processes and public‐health policies seldom explicitly address the public-health implications of development in areas at high risk for flooding. During and after floods, the imperative to restore the statuesque as quickly as possible can interfere with efforts to identify and address less obvious problems, such as newly contaminated soil or housing. In fact, lack of specific information, data and analysis regarding post‐storm vulnerability to flood‐dispersed contamination represents a significant public health concern for coastal communities. Recovery can be further hampered by gaps in understanding of risk factors and treatments for post‐flood disease outbreaks.