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We, the undersigned, write respectfully to request that you remediate all Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites, Brownfields, hazardous substance releases and other documented contamination threats to the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY in strict compliance with State mandates requiring comprehensive toxic cleanups to "pre-disposal conditions" and pollution spill "source removal" in order to fulfill all applicable regulatory requirements...continue



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    Listen to Walter Hang's WBAI Radio Interview


    If you're feeling fired up after listening to this, please sign the Coalition Letter if you haven't done so already!

    And if you are able to make a charitable contribution, please consider making a tax-deductable donation below. Helping us pay for experts, like Walter Hang is extremely important. Walter is President of Toxics Targeting and without his expertise, we simply wouldn't be armed with the wealth of knowledge that he and others are able to provide.

    Voice of Gowanus is a grass roots, community led coalition, fighting complex issues. Walter has a long history of standing up to protect us and we hope to continue working with him well into 2023! Please consider helping us make that happen.

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    Coalition Letter

    CBS New York coverage

    Full press conference


    Please become a signatory

    Please become a signatory to a new: Coalition Letter which Requests That Governor Hochul Comprehensively Remediate All Toxic Sites in the Gowanus Canal Community to "Pre-Disposal Conditions."


    Voice of Gowanus Cleanup Campaign

    Voice of Gowanus is launching a new campaign to safeguard public health and the environment throughout the Gowanus Canal community.

    Please join our effort today by becoming a signatory to a self-explanatory coalition letter which requests that Governor Hochul remediate dozens of highly toxic sites to "pre-disposal conditions" in order to safeguard public health and the environment around the Gowanus Canal:

    New York's Shocking Failure to Comprehensively Remediate Toxic Sites Throughout the Gowanus Canal Community

    The Gowanus Canal is arguably the most toxic contaminated waterway in America.  The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of removing nearly 600,000 cubic yards of cancer-causing "black mayonnaise" coal tar from the canal at a cost of $1.5 billion. 

    The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, however, is responsible for remediating more than three dozen major toxic contamination sources near the shores of the Gowanus Canal.  These sites release chlorinated solvents, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heavy metals and cancer-causing polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

    Regarding its cleanup, EPA has declared that:

    "The remedy relies on the control of upland sources of contamination to the Canal, including the remediation of three former MGP [Manufactured Gas Plants, not in the original] sites adjacent to the Canal−−Carroll Gardens/Public Place (formerly known as "Citizens Gas Works"); former Metropolitan MGP, and former Fulton Municipal Works MGP (Fulton MGP) (emphasis added)."

    Citizens will be stunned by the array of toxic sites that New York State has failed to cleanup around the Gowanus Canal, including the three Manufactured Gas Plants referenced by EPA.


    See: Public Health and Environmental Toxic Threats Along the Gowanus Canal That Reportedly Do Not Meet All Applicable Cleanup Standards

    Take Urgent Action Today

    Governor Hochul has no plans to remove staggering amounts of cancer-causing and otherwise toxic contamination up to 150-feet deep at dozens of sites that are documented to threaten public health in the Gowanus Canal community.  Our goal is to require the Governor to enforce a critical provision of state law to remediate toxic sites on a comprehensive basis in order to restore them to "pre-disposal conditions." 

    That is the purpose of our new: Coalition Letter Which Requests That Governor Hochul Comprehensively Remediate All Toxic Sites in the Gowanus Canal Community to "Pre-Disposal Conditions."

    Unless concerned citizens require the Governor to fulfill our request, many toxic sites will continue to release toxic fumes that can intrude into homes, schools and buildings.  Increased flooding caused by climate change could spread highly toxic underground pollution throughout the Gowanus Canal community as Light-Non-Aqueous Liquids float out of the ground during high-water events.  Finally, the areas cleaned up by EPA will become recontaminated in years to come in an epic exercise in futility. 

    Join the Voice of Gowanus Toxic Cleanup Campaign

    Citizen activists needed.  Take action today before it is too late. 

    To learn more about becoming an activist please  join the group.


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    46 Brownfields along the Canal

    A larger map of the Gowanus brownfields is at bottom of the page.

    Here's a Printable version of this post

    Please print, share and send feedback to [email protected]



    Coal Tar is the bi-product of coal gas. Coal was brought on boats and heated to produce gas used for cooking, heating, and lighting. After the gas was captured, the tar was cooled in storage tanks. As seen in the picture above, the tanks were not well sealed structures and often times, the tar escaped into the ground. And not just the surface, but deep into the ground. The marshland, acting like a sponge, absorbed the toxic, volatile, chemicals. And since they are volatile (meaning that they are constantly evaporating) they release their gasses back into the air that we breath. Emitting toxic plumes that can be dangerous to our health and the health of the environment.

    But isn’t it a Superfund site, aren't they cleaning it up?
    Only the canal is actually listed on the EPA's list of most polluted sites in the United States. It will be dredged and then capped to prevent coal tar deep in the native sediment from bubbling back up. The land surrounding the canal, which includes the MGP and Brownfield sites, are being remediated by the PRPs (potentially responsible parties) under the direction of NYS DEC. In most cases, our State agency is only asking the PRPs to scrape the top layer of soil off and to install a plastic vapor barrier, leaving deep pockets of coal tar in the ground. This is grossly inadequate and is not a long term solution.

    Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

    The VOC chemicals found in the ground, Benzene among others are known carcinogens. There is no safe level of exposure. There are State laws in place to protect us. But nobody is holding them accountable. We demand a more responsible clean up.

    1. To protect the Superfund from continued contamination.
    2. To protect current residents from breathing volatile air.
    3. To ensure that future residents don’t have to live on top of it.


    The Big 3 Offenders of toxic pollution

    • Citizens Gas
    • Fulton Gas
    • Metropolitan Gas

    Citizens Manufacturing Gas Site

    • One of most polluted brownfields in the state if not the country.
    • Toxic Tar depth: 150’ below ground.
    • Current Owner: City of New York
    • Responsible Party: National Grid
    • Location: Smith btwn 5th Street & Huntington


    Fulton Manufacturing Gas Site

    • underneath Thomas Greene Park & the Double D Pool
    • Coal tar depth: 0’-150’ below ground and migrating to other side of the canal.
    • Current Owner: City of New York, Parks Department
    • Responsible party: National Grid
    • Location: Nevins btwn Douglas & DeGraw (Double D).

    Metropolitan Manufactured Gas Site

    • Current location of Lowe's and Big Reuse
    • Current Owner: Two Trees
    • Responsible Party: National Grid
    • Location: 2nd Ave between 10th and 12th St

    Larger map of all Brownfields and Superfund sites around Gowanus

    source:Brownfield and Superfund site locations



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    Heads up, drilling, soil sampling, and installation of off site sampling wells

    Heads up, Starting today, Monday October 17th, work will begin near the former Citizens Manufactured Gas Plant site to drill and collect soil and water samples and to further delineate potential MGP-related impacts that have migrated offsite.

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    Students Report Noxious Fumes at city park to NYS Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon’s office. DEC retroactively confirms monitors exceeded toxic levels.

    GOWANUS, BROOKLYN - On September 6th, staffers to NYS Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and NYC Council Member Shahana Hanif revealed publicly for the first time that DEC confirmed the release of toxic vapors at levels that triggered an emergency alarm and work stoppage on July 27th at a worksite adjacent to EPA’s massive Gowanus Canal Superfund zone. The worksite is part of the former Citizens Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP), which is currently undergoing partial remediation and toxic containment under the supervision of DEC, an effort that has been widely criticized by the EPA and the community for its inadequacy. 

    Children who had been playing at St. Mary’s Playground—which is situated directly across from the heavily contaminated site—were the first to report to Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon’s office that they had smelled strong, prominent odors over several days, including July 27th. They were part of a camp run by the nearby International School of Brooklyn in Carroll Gardens and the smells, they said, seemed to be emanating from the former Citizens MGP site.

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    We've filed an appeal to overturn dismissal of our case against the Gowanus Rezone

    On July 15, our attorney Richard Lippes filed an appeal seeking to overturn a Brooklyn judge’s dismissal of our lawsuit. We believe the dismissal was contrary to law and involved inappropriate opining about aspects of the merits of the case without the benefit of full briefing and argument. 
    The bottom line remains: no judge has actually fully considered the environmental law claims raised in the Voice of Gowanus suit.  
    “This is not over. Not by any means. The city’s reckless push to subject people and the environment to harm in Gowanus - all to line the pockets of luxury developers - violates multiple state and federal laws. We are appealing for the sake of our many fellow community members at risk of toxic soil and flooding. We’re doing this for the Gowanus Canal, a waterway that may well have its EPA’s Superfund cleanup remedy undone by overdevelopment.” - Katia Kelly, plaintiff in the suit. 
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  • Featured press release


    June 09, 2022
    Contact: Voice of Gowanus





    GOWANUS, BROOKLYN – Community coalition Voice of Gowanus doubled down on their lawsuit to require legitimate impact analysis at toxic sites in Gowanus as developers defied the EPA and drove piles into Superfund sites with no prior notice or EPA approval. The reckless pile driving endangers community health and sets a terrible precedent that developers’ greed can supersede the power of federal agencies.

    Motion for Injunction Filed in State Court

    In line with the demands of their Article 78 petition, Voice Of Gowanus has filed a motion for preliminary injunction to stop Gowanus Rezone-related construction activity in the area. As stated in the filing, "even the City-drafted Environmental Impact Statement concedes that 'any redevelopment involving subsurface disturbance could potentially increase pathways for human exposure to any subsurface hazardous materials present.’"

    Greed Speeds Dangerous Push to Break Ground

    Developers have pursued a brazen effort to drive piles and pour foundations without proper safety precautions or oversight in their race to meet the June 15th deadline for the 421a tax credit—a developer giveaway that former Council Member Brad Lander and former Mayor Bill de Blasio allowed to run rampant via the massive Gowanus Rezoning pushed through late last year.

    “This is absolutely outrageous,” said Miranda Sielaff, a member of Voice of Gowanus, who lives near the site of the incident. “How is every level of government – city, state, and federal – failing to keep these developers in check?”

    Voice of Gowanus sent a letter to elected officials—including NYS Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and Council Members Shahana Hanif and Lincoln Restler—who had previously reached out to state and city agencies, flagging the incidents. VoG pushed for these representatives to go further, demanding that a Stop Work Order be put in place until a safety review could be conducted by EPA and inviting those officials to support their legal action.

    Community Anger, A Petition Emerges

    Sielaff and fellow members of Voice of Gowanus launched a petition that has now blown past 500 signatories. Anger is palpable in the blocks surrounding the pile driving. And for good reason.

    “Residents are fired up,” said Martin Bisi, a local small business owner in Gowanus. “It’s one thing for a community member to have no knowledge of this pile driving into a poisoned site. But it’s another for the EPA to receive no notice and then be ignored when it demands that the work be halted.”

    Breaking Open Toxic Land, Risk of Fumes

    The Gowanus incident took place on the notorious Public Place site, a former manufactured gas plant site that remains riddled with coal tar even after a limited remediation that the EPA has publicly criticized. EPA officials have repeatedly questioned the city’s plan to build housing and a school at this location, given the risk of toxic vapors from contamination soaked deep into the soil. A rep from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation stated at a public meeting that developers were allowed to proceed in order to meet the June 15th 421a deadline in a shocking move that put the interests of developers over the health and safety of the community.


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    Let's Put People Over Profits in Gowanus!

    The Gowanus Rezone is an Environmental Disaster In the Making

    In November 2021, the City approved an 82 block rezone of Gowanus, sweeping major environmental issues under the rug.

    The Rezone:

    • Will Put People on Highly Poisonous Land
    • Will Make Sewage Problems Worse
    • Ignores the Realities of Climate Change
    • Endangers the Clean Up
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    Maureen Koetz Explains VOG's Lawsuit on WBAI

    Last week, VOG's own legal counsel Maureen Koetz addressed the VOG lawsuit and the many political and environmental issues that surround the Gowanus rezone with host Michael G. Haskin's on WBAI's radio program, "Living for the City."  Below, you can listen to the entire show, or read the transcript of Maureen's conversation with Michael. 

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    The future of the Gowanus rezoning is anything but certain as community coalition Voice of Gowanus filed a new lawsuit today vigorously attacking the profoundly illegal rezoning, highlighting multiple violations of federal and state environmental law. The suit, filed by Voice of Gowanus, Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus (F.R.O.G.G.) and area residents, goes far beyond what any other recent neighborhood rezoning challenges have alleged, setting out multiple causes of action. 

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