News | May 29, 2018

EPA And National Grid Reach Major Agreement On Gowanus Canal Superfund Site Cleanup

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $100M agreement with National Grid for cleanup of the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, New York. The milestone settlement will support cleanup work near the head of the Gowanus Canal, including the cleanup and restoration of Thomas Greene Park, as well as the Douglass and DeGraw Pool.

  • Build a sealed bulkhead/barrier wall on the east side of the Canal between Butler and Union Streets to prevent coal tar from spreading to the Canal and to support dredging;
  • Address contamination at the Thomas Greene Park through excavation and mixing cement into contaminated soil (a process called solidification) to permanently lock up coal tar and other contaminants;
  • Design, site, and construct a temporary swimming pool to operate while the park is closed; and
  • Design and permanently replace the pool and impacted park areas.

Today’s settlement is part of the overall cleanup of the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, New York. EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) are coordinating closely on the cleanup. The NYS DEC has an ongoing agreement with National Grid to address some of the contamination in the area.

This settlement is integral to the city’s work under its own June 2016 settlement with EPA, which requires the city to complete the design for the larger of two combined sewage and stormwater overflow (CSO) retention tanks selected in the 2013 Canal cleanup decision; acquire two privately owned parcels located at 242 Nevins Street and 234 Butler Street for siting the tank; and acquire a staging area. If the city doesn’t acquire those properties, which are also contaminated with coal tar, that tank will be sited at the park. Construction of the sealed bulkhead is expected to begin later in 2018. The remaining work may take up to six years, depending on the city’s acquisition of the properties.

The area underneath Thomas Greene Park is contaminated with coal tar. The Park is one of eight parcels that are part of the New York state-designated Former Fulton Manufactured Gas Plant Site, many parts of which are being addressed under a separate agreement between the state and National Grid. More than a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy metals, including mercury, lead, and copper, were found at high levels in the sediment in the Gowanus Canal. PAHs and heavy metals were also found in the canal water.

The final cleanup plan of the Gowanus Canal Superfund site includes dredging to remove contaminated sediment from the bottom of the Canal, which has accumulated because of industrial and sewer discharges. The dredged areas will then be capped. The plan also includes controls to reduce CSO discharges and other land-based sources of pollution from compromising the cleanup. The engineering design work for the project will be completed shortly after the conclusion of a current dredging and capping pilot taking place in the 4th Street Turning Basin. EPA expects that the implementation of the final remedy will be covered by a future agreement with, or order by, EPA. Full-scale dredging of the remainder of the Canal is expected to start in 2020.

The EPA has identified numerous parties that are potentially responsible for the contamination of the Gowanus Superfund site, including National Grid, the City of New York, and other private and federal government entities.

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Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)