Tuesday, February 26, 2013

CORD urges Public to Comment on EPA Proposed Clean-Up Plan for Gowanus Canal

Hello from CORD

On the eve of the next general Gowanus Canal CAG/Community Advisory Group meeting (tonight Tuesday 2/11/2013 at 6:30 PM at Mary Star of the Sea Senior Housing, 41 1St Street, (btwn Hoyt/Bond), Carroll Gardens , here is a summary of events....

Well, the last month was a frenzy of meetings about the Gowanus Canal cleanup...There were meetings held by each CAG committee, a general CAG meeting and several public  meetings held by the EPA both in Carroll Gardens and Red Hook.

The topic? The proposed clean up plan (referred to as the PRAP) of course!
A bit of brief procedural history and a glimpse at the future...Please Note: All of this information and the actual reports are available on the EPA website:

The Gowanus Canal PRAP/Proposed Remedial Action Plan http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/gowanus/pdf/gowanus_prap.pdf

    -the Gowanus Canal Superfund Designation (the Canal being placed on the National Priorities List/named a Superfund site)
    -the Remedial Investigation or RI (EPA studied the Canal in order to learn the scope and extent of contamination)
    -the Feasibility Study or FS (EPA takes the results of the RI and begins to shape possible cleanup methods)
    -the Proposed Plan or PRAP --- PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD TILL 4/27/2012---- We are HERE right now---
    -the Record of Decision or ROD

The meat of the PRAP:
The State of New York, with the approval and oversight of the EPA must prevent any contamination from the uplands from seeping back into the Canal....they have a plan.
The EPA will dredge and remove the dangerous black mayonnaise concoction of goop that sits at the Canal's bottom. They will then cap it so that any remaining toxins  do not rise up and recontaminate the water.

The plan also addresses, Hallelujah!, the CSO's, (you remember those..the combined sewer overflows that during rain become so overwhelmed that we here in Brooklyn are transported to a country which we would all be taking up a collection for because their raw sewage was running right through the heart of their community) which contribute, separate from the dangerous and disgusting pathogens,  toxic compounds that contaminate the Canal. Apparently, the chemical contamination actually attaches itself to the solid human waste--some of which winds up sticking to the bottom of the canal---and there we have the beginning of dangerous recontamination.

So, the EPA has determined that a good solution would be to implement retention tanks which could, during rain heavy enough to overwhelm the CSO's,  collect and hold onto the sewage for a brief time until it could be released into the water and head on over to the treatment plant where it belongs.
The City of New York, a MAJOR polluter,  fortunately owns some property along the Canal which is very suited for UNDERGROUND retention tank location.

One place is an area off Second Avenue, known as the salt lots. The other, would be under the Thomas Greene Park--which also happens to sit upon one of the three old manufacturing gas plants  (MGP) which are the greatest cause of the Canal's contamination in the first place.

The Park, by the way, will need a great deal of remediation because of its former use---it will need to be, for the most part, ripped up and cleaned so that it is safe for use and will not contribute to the recontamination of the Canal any longer.  Kind of seems fitting that something that caused so much trouble to our community could be used for something that now benefits everyone....

There have already been some, who have tried to categorize the use of the land under the former MGP as, "losing a park".  How ridiculous is that? The "park" is contaminated! This was never a suitable place for children to play and thank goodness and the EPA that is going to be remediated now! An underground retention tank is not going to endanger anyone's health nor will it contribute to the already abominably polluted canal that this "park" abuts.

CORD suggests that we take the love and passion for what is now standing there  and use it to press National Grid and the City of New York, the two biggest polluters,  to restore the area, after the cleanup to a true, safe playground with a new swimming pool that is not sitting in a vat of contaminated muck, as it does now....

There was one additional possible part of the PRAP--which the EPA carefully and repeatedly explained as an idea, not something that was a definitive part of the plan. It had to do with the potential location for the  processing of some of the least contaminated material.
It was proposed, and was presented as entirely up to the Red Hook community, that a temporary facility to dewater and process some of the dredged material could be situated on some waterfront property in Red Hook. The owner of the property is in the unique situation of owning the underground rites to some water that abuts his property. He happens to be in the concrete business which could be used as a means of further solidifying and making inert some of the dredged material from the Canal--a common practice. As the owner of the land rites beneath the water on his property, it was proposed that area could be dewatered, engineered into a sort of bathtub, where the inert material could then be stored and actually become solid land. The solid land itself that would be created, would actually be the Containment Disposal Facility (the CDF), which the EPA would monitor and inspect periodically forever.

In addition to the two meetings held here in Carroll Gardens where the PRAP and the possible CDF facility were discussed, there were two meetings held by the EPA in Red Hook.
It appears as though the community is not interested in this suggestion. CORD feels that in this situation, where this one suggestion within the plan can be included or excluded as per the immediate community's wishes, what  the Red Hook community wants--what they feel--is what should be....If they say "NO", then we agree---it's  NO. We must stand with our neighbors whatever their decision may be...

So here we are....
At this point, the EPA has presented the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) who "concurs" with the EPA. (you may read their response on the EPA site), the Responsible Parties (the polluters who foot the bill) and the public (us) with their plan to tackle the contamination in the Canal as revealed in their RI with some or all of the methods they discussed in their FI.

At this juncture, the DEC, the polluters, the public and just anybody else with something to say has the opportunity to submit their comments. It is called a public comment period and usually lasts for thirty (30) days.

Our Canal, once again proving that it is unique in every way, has been given very different treatment than other sites all around the country.

The PRAP was presented with a ninety (90) day public comment period and for some reason has been further extended to one hundred and twenty (120) days. You now have until April 27, 2013.
So the clean and cap the bottom, make sure nothing else seeps in from the sides and address the contamination that comes from the sewers, which is pretty much the plan, needs FOUR MONTHS for people to say yea or nay to?

We just don't get it.

What we DO know is this....Lisa Jackson, who was the Administrator of the EPA has stepped down. In our opinion, Ms Jackson was a true supporter of our Canal's cleanup, even when it was a very unpopular idea with our Mayor and many others....She is gone now and a fellow Brooklynite, Mr Bob Percisepe, is acting in her place. Some of us met with Mr. Percisepe a while back. We hope and bellieve, as a local resident, that he understands our problems and supports the PRAP.
We do not know how long he will be in the position of Acting Administrator and we do not know who will come in next.

The longer it takes for us to get to the next step in the process, the Record of Decision (ROD), the more tenuous, we believe, the entire situation becomes.
Please let your voice be heard. Send in your APPROVAL of the PRAP, to the EPA 

Written comments on the proposed plan should be addressed to:

Christos Tsiamis

Project Manager

Central New York Remediation Section

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 20th Floor
New York, New York 10007-1866

OR, contact Natalie Loney, Community Involvement Coordinator, at 212-637-3639, loney.natalie@epa.gov.

To read EPA’s proposed plan for the Gowanus Canal site or for more information on the canal, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/gowanus/http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/gowanus or visit the EPA’s document repositories at the Carroll Gardens Library at 396 Clinton St. in Brooklyn or the Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110 West 9th Street, Brooklyn. The documents will be available in the repositories on December 28, 2012.

Tell them that you want them to move forward as quickly as possible. Tell them that you are eager to get to the ROD and for the plan to proceed. Tell them NO MORE DELAYS.....let's move forward.

YOUR voice will be heard. YOUR comments are important. Please show YOUR SUPPORT for the Proposed Plan and your eagerness to reach the point of Record of Decision. Once there, it is a legal document that must be adhered to....

This has been a long haul and it ain't over yet......please send in your comments...if you would like, copy us at cgcord@gmail.com  and we will print up your comments on our newsletter and blog so that your neighbors can see where you stand....it may help and encourage others to speak up as well.....
We are so close....please help the process to move forward....
If you can, come tomorrow night to the CAG meeting. Local elected officials frequently send their representatives. Our meetings are always open to the public and our minutes are sent and posted on the EPA site.
Come and listen---come and be heard....

See you there!  CORD


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........