New York Tries to Dodge Superfund Status for Canal

New York City's Gowanus Canal has been heavily polluted for years. Mayor Bloomberg said the cleanup would happen, but it never did. Now the EPA is calling the troubled waterway a Superfund site and the city is kickstarting action.

1 minute read

November 12, 2009, 8:00 AM PST

By Nate Berg


"[I]t was only this October that the mayor finally returned to the canal, though now for an entirely different reason, and one the new infrastructure would have little impact on: a proposal announced in April by the EPA to make the canal-one of the most polluted waterways in the city-into a Superfund site, a fate Bloomberg, with real estate interests in mind, greatly feared.

'This is the beginning of a comprehensive cleanup that will be done much faster than the years of fighting through the Superfund process,' he declared.

That said, the promised improvements to sewage overflow have nothing to do with the toxic sediments in the canal that have caused the community so much concern, and which finally forced the EPA to take action. Furthermore the city's own proposal to clean up those sediments, which was also unveiled last month, has been questioned by environmentalists, scientists, and even the Army Corps of Engineers, the city's partner in the program."

The Architect's Newspaper's Matt Chaban reports on the Canal, which Bloomberg hopes to clean up through voluntary means within the city instead of relying on the EPA's Superfund designation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 in The Architect's Newspaper

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