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Bloomy says he’ll begin $150 M Gowanus clean-up next month

The Brooklyn Paper
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Mayor Bloomberg put the money where his mouth is last Friday as he he announced the start of a city-funded $150-million Gowanus Canal clean-up plan that he claims would be speedier than federal Superfund designation — but opponents contend wouldn’t sufficiently clean the fetid waterway.

Bloomberg blasted the federal plan as overly litigious and too slow while touting his own “comparativ­ely fast” proposed decade-long clean-up, which could begin in November with repairs to the wastewater pumping station and flushing tunnel aimed to reduce the amount of raw sewage that enters the waterway and nullify nasty odors.

“[The Superfund is] going to be an enormous boon for lawyers and the court system … but nothing is going to be done [to clean the canal] for a long time,” the mayor said at a press conference at the head of the putrid waterway.

Bloomberg claimed that using the Superfund to clean the vile waterway — which is contaminated with pesticides, PCBs, heavy metals, and even gonorrhea — could take more than two decades.

“This Superfund process would inevitably be super slow,” said Bloomberg, who has also objected to the federal plan over concerns that its stigma would halt residential development along the canal. “We think there is a better way and a faster way.”

The mayor said his plan to upgrade facilities along the canal would bring the waterway up to the standards required by the Clean Water Act. It will start with an $85-million renovation of the pumping station that would reduce raw sewage overflow into the canal by 34 percent by installing four new pumps and constructing a mile-long sewage pipe that connects to the Red Hook sewage plant.

The city will also fund a $50-million renovation of the century-old flushing tunnel, which rinses out the Gowanus with (relatively) clean water from Buttermilk Channel.

Workers would replace the single existing single pump with three new pumps, aimed to increase the flow of oxygen rich water by 40 percent. The mayor — with the help of the Army Corp of Engineers — plans to dredge a 750-foot stretch of the upper canal to remove sedimentthat stinks when exposed during low tides.

In sharp contrast with the Superfund program, which raises its money by suing parties deemed responsible for contamination, the city would pay for the dredging by soliciting donations from suspected polluters.

The mayor said that responsible parties would have an incentive to contribute because “it settles once and for all their liability … with a known and not an unknown amount.”

A spokesman for Environmental Protection Agency told The Brooklyn Paper that the start of the city’s Gowanus Canal repairs will not have an impact on the agency’s Superfund decision.

The mayor’s plan “doesn’t affect EPA’s consideration of Gowanus Canal as a possible Superfund site,” said spokesman John Senn. “It’s an ongoing process.”

Supporters of a federal clean-up claim the mayor’s “upgrades” aren’t enough.

“The mayor’s plan is not sufficient,” said Steven Miller, who was among a group of about five Superfund supporters who were barred from entering the Bloomberg event.

“The mayor is the only thing that is standing between us and a clean canal.”

Updated 5:15 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to include full coverage of the event.
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Reasonable discourse

gowanusrat from gowanus says:
Why should anyone applaud Bloomberg for doing something that should have been eight years ago and is pursuant to a consent decree?
Additionally,contrary to the Bloomberg administration's whiny assertions that this work will be stalled by superfunding, the EPA has indicated that they welcome the work on the flushing tunnel and have stated that the work should go forth and it will not interfere with the EPA's work.
This is not a matter of the mayor flexing his muscle and taking the bull by the horns as your article seems to imply. Far from it.
Oct. 9, 2009, 10:25 am
gowanus from gowanus says:
Too bad the city folks aren't taking public transport to this event--it would be helpful for them to experience how this area is (not) served well by public transit.

And be careful on the bike, this site is on a truck route.
Oct. 9, 2009, 11:09 am
sue says:
Insted of going to Bermuda ...on the weekends- Mike the self annointed king should spend a few weekends on the gowanus
Oct. 9, 2009, 6:41 pm
Dav from Bushwick says:
Bloomberg Yassky=Loosers....big time!!!! just he dont care at all!! for the press only..
Oct. 14, 2009, 3:03 pm
Chicken Underwear says:
From the headline, I thought King Bloomberg was using his own money to clean the canal. I wonder if he knows the difference, anymore
Oct. 15, 2009, 9:29 am
bruce from midwood says:
I thought they started this cleanup years ago?? As a matter of fact I thought I saw a canoe in there last week ??
Oct. 15, 2009, 9:50 am
adam from cobble hill says:
nope, no clean up. they got the water pump working 9 years ago but its only worked intermittently. the canoes are a part of a group called the "gowanus dredgers". i went out with them last month.. it was pretty awesome though i was really afraid of being splashed by the water.

check out the documentary "lavendar lake".. stories about bodies turning up in the gowanus and men on the run trying to hide out in the canal and subsequently dying on the spot.. pretty great stuff
Oct. 16, 2009, 3:45 pm
joe from Gowanus says:
Adam,

The pump has been running almost non-stop since 1999. It was damaged by driftwood once in 2000 and turned off on occasion for maintenance.

The upgrade effort was started about a year after Bloomberg was elected but public works projects take a long time to implement.
Oct. 21, 2009, 10:35 am

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