Monday, November 12, 2012

Brand New Housing in the Path of Next Toxic Storm Surge??

Hello from CORD

Below you will find some much needed information:
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. 

Does it make sense to build even more in Zone A along the Gowanus Canal Corridor?  Does it make sense for our City to rubber stamp 700 units of new housing along the Gowanus Canal this week?  To place brand new housing in what will undoubtedly be, (based on the extreme weather conditions we have already seen at the canal over the past three years), the path of NEXT toxic storm surge?? 

We do not think so!  Please read below.

Statement from the United States Environmental Protection Agency 


Gowanus Canal Area

November 2, 2012 
On October 29, 2012, during Hurricane Sandy, a portion of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York overtopped its banks, causing the flooding of some area residences and businesses. The water receded after the storm. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency immediately conducted a visual inspection of the length of the canal and the surrounding area and did not observe sediment on the streets. The EPA also collected samples of standing water from several buildings and will make the results public as soon as they are available. 

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.

Wash clothes worn during cleanups in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately than uncontaminated clothes. 

Hurricane Sandy Sampling Results

On October 31, 2012, EPA took 4 samples in the Gowanus Canal area. Samples were taken from the ground floors of two buildings that had been flooded as well as directly from the canal. One of the buildings is located at the head of the canal, and the other near the 3rd street turning basin.
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
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

p. 44
Public Health 

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.

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With the "Protect Our Homes" petition, CORD was formed in May, 2007. This petition arose as an overwhelmingly negative response to the coming of the over-sized 360 Smith Street Development at the corner of Smith Street and Second Place (Aka Oliver House; aka 131 Second Place). This petition, which had well over three thousand signatures, led to a new zoning text amendment in summer of 2008.

To: Our Elected Officials, Community Leaders, The MTA:
(MAY, 2007)

We the undersigned Carroll Gardens homeowners and residents, are appalled by the "as of right" ruling which allows owners and developers to erect buildings in our neighborhood with no regard to the impact they will present to our quality of life and the value of our homes........