A proposed plan to clean up Brooklyn's toxic Gowanus waterway will remove sludge, prevent raw sewage from recontamination and generate hundreds of jobs, according to a presentation by the EPA. But neighbors should not expect to take a dip or cast a line anytime soon.
EPA officials deconstructed their proposal in the first of two public meetings at P.S. 58, allowing questions and comments from neighbors and local electeds afterward. The plan, which will include a combination of dredging, capping, CSO discharge retention tanks and other in situ stabilization, is anticipated to cost roughly $500 million and take 10 years to complete.
"The preferred plan [was chosen] due to removal of sift sediment, removing gross contamination and limiting the potential for recontamination," said an EPA representative. "[Overall] we will have greater water depth, and the treatment and disposal options allow for beneficial uses of toxic elements."
The public's response was largely positive, with applause breaking out several times. Praise and gratitude were expressed by multiple commenters.
"The cleanup of the canal has been a priority of this community for a long time," said Councilman Brad Lander. "We're very excited to begin... We have the opportunity to set a great model for what you could do in a low-lying, sustainable, formerly industrial, contaminated waterfront area on this planet. [laughter] Many of us didn't think we would have this opportunity two years ago, but it is upon us."
Members of the CAG were also some of the first to comment, with many tempering their appreciation of the EPA with thoughtful questions regarding cleanup approach.
"Would you consider excavating the 5th St. basin in the same way you plan to excavate the 1st St. basin?" was one such query.
Another neighbor asked whether "measures would be put in place for flood protection" during the cleanup, in light of Hurricane Sandy and the impact that storm had on the area.
Officials stressed that plan approval by the community was integral to moving forward, and repeatedly mentioned that comments will be accepted through April 27. A final remedy will be selected with consideration of those comments by Summer 2013. All of the documents related to the cleanup proposal may be found online here.
The second public meeting on the EPA's proposed cleanup for the Gowanus Canal will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110 W. 9th St. in Red Hook.