The Gowanus Canal, which has the unique honor(?) of being one of the few water bodies in America that can kill a baby whale, might soon lose its century-old street cred as a cesspool for industrial waste.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency met with area residents and shared its cleanup ideas with the public. Runnin’ Scared caught up with Elias Rodriguez, spokesman for the EPA’s New York City branch, to see how it’s going to fix the City’s beloved aqueous dump.
Rodriguez said that the canal is a major human health hazard — meaning it’s going to require a lot of effort to make the waterway safe.
There are two main options, he said — and will cost from 351 to $456 million.
What has to happen is this: the soft sediment — the stuff at the bottom of the canal — has to get dredged. Then, the EPA wants to put a 3-layer cap on top of the dredging.
Those would be made of clay (to absorb toxic waste), sand (to buffer pollutants), and rocks (an “armor” layer to hold down the other coats.)
The other option calls for an additional layer — of concrete.
There are still a couple years of planning to go, Rodriguez said, but he thinks the EPA can start dredging the Superfund site around 2016. If all goes without a snag, the project would take around 10 years.
So there you have it: Probably best not to plan a Gowanus fishing trip anytime soon.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 30, 2012