Monday, November 5, 2012

SHOULD residents remove the Superfunded Gowanus Canal gunk/floodwaters/flood debris left by Hurricane Sandy themselves? HOW???

MOP ????  and/or ???

SHOULD the residents of:  Carroll Gardens/Gowanus/Boerum Hill/Red Hook
remove the Superfunded Gowanus Canal gunk/floodwaters/flood debris left by Hurricane Sandy themselves?  HOW??

A science teacher in Brooklyn Heights writes to the author of the PMFA blog:

".....I just received an email from David Green, a science teacher, who raises the alarm on the dangers associated with the toxins. He writes:
"I am a science teacher with a background in Chemistry and Physics living in Brooklyn Heights.I saw your post on the flooding from the Gowanus canal.
The situation you describe is quite serious concerning the toxicological hazard from that particular flood. All the flooding in NY produced some hazard because of the sewage mixed with the flood water (particularly bad in red hook), but the Gowanus waters are leaden with Lead and Mercury, and dangerous volatiles too.
Sewage can be cleaned and sterilized with detergent and chlorine bleach, but if toxic water and sludge gets into a basement (or first floor) there is no way to clean it out completely. Wooden floors and even concrete absorb it and leave residues that cannot be removed.
Note: In areas that have been contaminated with lead and mercury compounds Chlorine bleach (such as Chlorox) could have the unintended consequence of turning non soluble compounds into more soluble ones making exposure risks greater, so bleach should not be used in Gowanus flooded areas. 

The long term dangers of these toxins are so great that I would recommend to all people who lived in a dwelling that got flooded by the Gowanus (basements and first floor apartments that got filled with this water), to notmove back in to their apartments. 
This is even more the case for people who have children. The younger the child the more damage is done by heavy metal poisoning, and the damage is essentially permanent. This damage can take years to accumulate in the nervous system but once done cannot be remedied. It does not take much to cause damage- the amount a child ingests by putting their hands in their mouth is more than enough. Some of these chemicals produce continuous vapors which makes it impossible to avoid exposure. 
I would strongly advise people with children especially babies and toddlers to not move back in, until the apartment is cleaned and then tested for these chemicals. If levels are above those set for safe exposure they should find someplace else to live. 
I know that this could cause utter disruption of peoples lives, but disruption of living plans is better than permanent neurological damage."
This is probably the best advice. The Gowanus Canal is a toxic brew on a good day. Hurricane Sandy's flood waters certainly deposited hazardous substances and sewage in businesses and homes on the banks of the Gowanus. I am frankly surprised that we don't have people in Hazmat suits controlling the situation." PMFA

CORD has also heard from Catherine Zinnel:

From: Catherine Zinnel - District Director
Office of Councilmember Brad Lander


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. 
I hope this information is helpful and please don't hesitate to contact me at 
718-499-1090 with any questions.



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........