We're still hard at work, fighting to protect the health and safety of our community. Apologies if we've been a little more quiet. Just trying to respect your inboxes.
What a Fall season in Gowanus, amiright? This week VoG sent an official email to Congressman Dan Goldman urging his increased engagement, which we feel has been lacking. You can read it for yourself here.
Here's a quick recap of what's happened this last quarter.
We ended a summer of multiple fishkills in the canal 😵, for reasons related to extremely low oxygen levels, but clear causes were never confirmed. We applaud the Gowanus Dredgers group for their near daily testing of the water to help better understand the sources of pollution. The EPA did confirm a coal tar breach from land adjacent to the canal in an area that was already remediated at the canal head.
Then in late September, we were hit with a heavy rain / super tide event that resulted in 7" of rain flooding the area. The event was so catastrophic for our area that Gov. Hochul recently requested Federal relief aid for the damage done. As the extreme weather events continue to increase, this exemplifies how Gowanus is on the frontline of climate change 🌎. It's still a mystery to us that in some parts of the city, we're doing managed retreat or building 8 foot flood walls, but here, in a floodplain at sea level with poor infrastructure, we're building thousands of new units on top of toxic land. What could go wrong?
This past October, members of VoG attended another NY State community information session that was a smoke-and-mirrors science fair using crowd dispersion tactics to avoid having an open forum. Meanwhile, the State continues to promote the use of Soil Vapor Intrusion barriers to separate pollution from new construction, claiming it's an effective solution to protecting our current and future residents. Spoiler alert, it's not. Pollution can migrate and find ways out and these solutions have never been tested longterm on residential projects at sea level. The only real solution is to dig up all the pollution and get it out. Something that we’re entitled to under NYState law. The reason that's not happening is because of one thing, money 🖤.
Meanwhile, NY Dept. of Health officials at this event claim that their data doesn't show any cancer clusters in Gowanus. No surprise to us, because the land was formally industrial - so very few people lived here! But when pressed on this fact, the DOH acknowledged that there are carcinogenic toxins under these future buildings. Yet they seem to be incapable of connecting the dots between what they know causes cancer, and what will happen when dangerous vapors from the toxins find their way into these new structures over time, endangering people living above ☠️.
Also this lovely Fall 🍁, the State sent out letters to specific residents asking for their voluntary participation in taking air samples inside their buildings. If the State finds Volatile Organic Compounds above safe levels inside these homes, they will help install air mitigation systems. However many building owners are reluctant to participate out of fear that their property value will be affected. Which begs the question, what makes a property more valuable? One that exists on or near legacy pollution? Or one that exists on or near pollution that's been properly cleaned up pollution.
✅ Action item: Support the EPA’s proposed ban of cancer-causing TCE by signing this petition on Earthjustice.com
What else happened this Fall? Oh yeah, our former Borough President, turn Mayor, Eric Adams, is under Federal investigation for allegedly accepting illegal donations from a foreign country. How did he allegedly do it? Through a straw donor scheme with developers. Developers who happened to build at least two projects here in Gowanus, our lovely lavender lake community 🪝. Coincidence? We'll let the courts decide.
And speaking of Eric Adams and the city, how's that new sewage infrastructure for Gowanus working out? The EPA just announced that it allowed the City to extend the start date of the smaller sewer retention tank by nine months. Go figure 👎.
Also this fine Fall, the Gowanus Community Advisory Group (CAG), discovered that NY State and National Grid (the potentially responsible polluter) have been denied access to Parcel 4 at Public Place 🕵🏻🔒- the extremely polluted former Citizens Manufacturing Gas Site along Smith Street. This parcel is currently used as a parking lot for ice cream trucks and food vendors, and is private property. Parcel 4 is also where up until the mid-1900s a coal tar containment tank stood. Based on recent groundwater sample wells near parcel 4, we know it's extremely polluted, but our State environmental agency can't get on the site to officially test it. So now what? Apparently the State and National Grid are suing to gain entry. Nothing shady going on with the ice cream man, never!
If you've read this far, thank you. Stay tuned with more to come. And stay positive! We realize this information can be overwhelming and deeply concerning. Our goal is to be transparent and disseminate important information with the local community. We're in for a long fight 🥊. Nothing will change overnight but we remain optimistic that our grassroots advocacy efforts will play an important part in our local fight against corruption and climate change. We must think global and act local. 🕊️
Please consider a donation to Voice of Gowanus. It's tax deductible and will go a long way 🙏.