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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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    Questions for the DEC

    The failure for the DEC to remediate toxic sites in strict compliance with NYS laws has caused the toxic hazards that now require a massive Soil Vapor Intrusion study.  This is unforgivable, irresponsible, unacceptable, and outrageous. 

    Voice of Gowanus have continued to warn about this public health crisis and yet they continue to fall on deaf ears. We need you to show up tomorrow and use your voice! Here are some potential questions to consider asking:

    SVI testing for toxic chemicals inside existing buildings

    • Why isn't the entire SVI study area being investigated in one fell swoop?
    • Why are you not investigating all of the homes, schools, and businesses within the entire SVI study area on a comprehensive and timely basis?
    • Why is the apartment complex where the meeting is being held excluded from the SVI study area even though it is perilously close to the Gowanus Canal NPL site and numerous other toxic sites? 
    • How many buildings have been tested?
    • When will you share with the community the results?
    • Will the results must be posted publicly?  Everything related to the SVI study must be open and transparent. 
    • Since government has zero credibility when it comes to protecting public health and the environment, will you share where the pollution is and who is impacted?
    • Why types of testing are they doing? 
    • Are they testing just vapors in the buildings or are they taking core sampling from under foundations?
    • What are the risks to health?

    Tenant rights 

    • Why are property owners allowed to avoid the investigation.  Access to all properties must be required in order to safeguard public health. 
    • with regard to testing and results, what are tenant’s rights to that information? 
    • who much transparency is there for tenants? 
    • Isn’t it important on an Environmental Justice issue that not only are current tenants more protected but also future tenants who may be unknowingly living on polluted soil? 

    Vapor intrusion barriers

    • How do we know Vapor Intrusion barriers under buildings will be thoroughly effective? 
    • Are there studies to support that they will last in a flood plain at sea level?
    • What happens to off-gassing pollution under wet ground when it’s trapped?
    • We demand that all the homes, schools, buildings, businesses within 1,000 feet of every Brownfield, Superfund, Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal site in the entire Gowanus Canal Community SVI study area must be investigated within one year.  If properties on the edge of that SVI investigation area are found to be contaminated, the study area must be extended another 1,000 feet.

    Regarding Recent floods

    we’ve had at least 2 significant floods in the last 6 months

    • what should you do if you walk through flooded water?
    • Have we tested flood water for TCE’s? 
    • Are we also testing the water and ground inside and below the buildings after it floods? 
    • Why has there been more CSO in the canal this past year ? 

    Climate Change

    • How high on your priority list are flood prevention? 
    • Do you agree that Gowanus is on the front lines of Climate Change?
    • How do we know increased flooding and the rising water table won't cause widespread and unforeseen migration of coal tar and other chemicals ? 
    • Who is the biggest Primary Responsible Polluter (PRP) in Gowanus?
    • Do you believe that they played in a role in Climate change?
    • Since this was missing in the EIS, what are the risks of rising sea tides and toxic land combined?
    • Should we review the EIS and make sure it covers all of the risks of climate change?

    Remediation requirements

    • Why are toxic polluters allowed to avoid cleaning up the Gowanus Canal? 
    • Are all abutting brownfield developments being required to have coal tar collection tanks ?
    • Why is it acceptable to leave 140 feet of cancer-causing coal tar at Public Place under future low-income housing and a school?
    • This is scandalous, pure corruption. Children today and in the future must be protected.  The most vulnerable in the community must be protected. 

    Where is it safe to live? 

    • How do we know where is safe to live in Gowanus?
    • What are the risks to current and future residents from increased CSO in the Canal?
    • What about the rising water table and increased flooding? How does it move toxins around the neighborhood?
    • When the Dredgers boathouse is under water like it was this week what are the health hazards?
    • What rights do rental tenants have to have their indoor air tested ?
    • What is the liability for New York State residents if the Gowanus Brownfield site remedies fail ?
    • When there's street flooding, as there was this month at the Dredgers Boathouse is there a health hazard ?




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    VoG files Freedom Of Information request regarding National Grid meeting with EPA

    It has been a busy year for VoG and we'd like to thank you for your support and staying engaged. 

    In our latest news, on December 19th VoG filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with the Environmental Protection Agency in regards to the Gowanus Canal Superfund clean-up. Read Our request letter here

     VoG filed the request after learning of a meeting in Spring of 2023, between EPA Region 2 Administrator Lisa Garcia and her staff, and high level executives of National Grid, the primary PRP (Potentially Responsible Party) polluter of the canal.. 

    Is National Grid lobbying the EPA to accept a less robust environmental cleanup of the cancer-causing coal tar pollution from the three former Manufactured Gas Plants (MGP) along the Gowanus Canal? The main contributors of the toxins in the canal.

    The concern is that National Grid may be trying to finagle their way out of paying for the cleanup of legacy pollution that they are responsible for.  Can we trust that our government is holding this British owned multinational company fully accountable without dealmaking, compromises or influence? 

    The material and correspondence requested in the FOIA are of immense importance to the communityIt will leave vast quantities of cancer-causing material in the ground, which can migrate and volatilize into the surrounding area, which National Grid's studies have already confirmed. (Langan Report). And not remediating more coal tar will compromise the Federal Government’s clean-up of the canal itself.

    VoG believes that the community has a right to know what has been discussed and negotiated between EPA Region 2 and National Grid.

    As soon as we receive documentation from EPA, we will be sharing it with the community at large.

    In 2024, we will continue to fight for a better environmental outcome and protection for everyone in our community from the harmful chemicals which still need to be remediated. 

    We will hold our environmental agencies and elected officials accountable and highlight questionable decision-making, which unfortunately seems based more on politics (and $) than on protecting public health. 

    If you are able to make a contribution to VoG, it is greatly appreciated and know that your financial support is used to enlist the help of experts and for actions like this.


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    December Update

    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 🙏.

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    Gov. Hochul on Gowanus

    On Tuesday, July 18, Gov. Hochul swooped into the Gowanus community to hold a Press Conference at the building formerly known as the Batcave, now Gowanus Powerhouse Arts. 
    The Governor came to announce her plans to reconstitute a contrived version of the failed 421a tax exemption, a NY State developer funding program that was supposed to bring affordable housing into NYC but did the opposite. Our state legislature no longer supports the program given its failure to address the decades of growth in unaffordable housing, however, the Governor intends to implement this new action by executive order. Because as she sees it,
    "where some see neglect, I see neighborhoods. Where some see blight, I see beauty... And where some see a hell hole I see homes.youtube link
    Yet the process of fixing our Gowanus 'hell hole' requires careful compliance oversight by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to ensure that the legacy and ongoing toxic pollution adheres to all federal and State environmental laws.

    And, by the way, thank you again to the 130 residents of our community who wrote Gov. Hochul demanding a full clean up of our toxic land to pre-disposal conditions. Please take a moment to read some of those letters here.

    Unfortunately, the Governor's response to our request for a full clean up, came in this following statement during her draconian Press Conference on Tuesday. Raising some serious concerns about her commitment to the environment.
    "I'm asking the DEC and Department of State to just, can you streamline a little bit? Do we have to really be the toughest state for doing all this? It's not necessary." Watch on youtube

    Voice of Gowanus finds this absolutely outrageous. Inappropriate and undue influence by the Governor on state agencies to look the other way on the health and safety regulations is deplorable. Our environmental laws were enacted to protect all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable communities from dire risk from flooding, polluted water, poisoned land, carcinogenic vapors, left from legacy heavy industries. 

    The Governor celebrated her attempts to circumvent health and safety and the rule of law by asserting: “When there’s a roadblock you go over here and you zig zag around. That’s what we’re very good at here.” And from that, she signed her orders and left Gowanus like a bat out of hell.

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    Advocacy by Voice Of Gowanus Prompts IG Investigation of Sewage Tank Delays

    The EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) has opened an investigation into why officials at EPA Region 2 have failed to enforce the timely construction of sewage retention tanks in Gowanus. This issue is crucial because the EPA has the enforcement tools — including the full weight of the Justice Department — to impose remedies and restrictions on the City and State of New York but have nevertheless allowed the City to delay tank completion for at least a decade. 

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    Tickets on Sale for Music Activism Fundraiser!

    We are so excited for our Music Activism Fundraiser live on Tuesday May 30!   

    Yo La Tengo
    "Time keeps moving and things keep changing, but that doesn’t mean we can't fight back. Yo La Tengo have raced time for nearly four decades and, to my ears, they just keep winning. The trio’s latest victory is called This Stupid World, a spellbinding set of reflective songs that resist the ever-ticking clock. This is music that’s not so much timeless as time-defiant" by Marc Masters 
    Marc Ribot 
    "Guitarist Marc Ribot helped Tom Waits refine a new, weird Americana on 1985's “Rain Dogs”, and since then he's become the go-to guitar person for all kinds of roots-music adventurers" in Rolling Stone
    Martin Bisi Collective
    Bisi is a prolific music producer who has helped develop post-Punk, No Wave and experimental culture through recordings of Brian Eno, Sonic Youth, Swans, John Zorn, Africa Bambaataa, JG Thirlwell, Dresden Dolls and countless others
    For this event he has put together a Collective of musicians for an improvised ambient set 

    Public Records 

    Exploring culture through sound. 🔊 Unifying communities through hospitality. 👀 Respecting earth and its inhabitants.  233 Butler St. Brooklyn. Doors: 7pm

    This intimate evening of music in the Sound Room at Public Records will be a unique way to experience these artists up close.  And most importantly, your ticket purchase benefits the work of the grassroots environmental group Voice of Gowanus. We are fighting for a safe and healthy environment in Gowanus, which was an industrial dumping ground for decades and the cleanup has only just begun. The EPA and New York State both need to oversee a full cleanup for people and the environment to be safe. All funds raised from this event will help us achieve this goal by hiring the experts who can make a difference in holding these institutions accountable to environmental laws. 
    Support our fight for a healthy environment in Gowanus and experience some incredible live music on May 30!

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    DEC Recap On April 20th

    DEC Recap

    On April 20th, NY State held their Community Informational event. That evening that made it clear that they are incapable of listening to our community's concerns. And that they would rather "politely" coral us into one-on-one conversations rather than have an open forum. We weren't happy, in fact nobody was.
    When pressed on hard issues like "how do you make sure that nobody gets sick? Or Should we be building on toxic land, at sea level, in a climate crisis?..." Their strategy was to deflect and encourage you to talk to another table.
    Please read Brooklyn Magazine's own recap here: 
    In response to a statement in the article made by Royal Palms co-owner, Jonathan Schnapp,

    Do we appreciate being called "pseudoscientists peddling misinformation to the detriment of our community"?  No, no we do not. It's precisely why we hired experts like Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting.

    The irony is, when Joseph confronted the Executive Deputy Director of the State DEC, Sean Mahar, on his credentials as a scientist, Sean, with a minor in Biology from Siena college, argued that he knows best for Brooklyn. Watch the conversation below.

    With all due respect, Gov. Hochul, Sean doesn't cut it. We need better. We need smarter. And everyone in that room felt the same way.

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    15min Deep Dive on 514 Union St with Walter Hang

    We are thrilled to let you know that our Campaign to Clean Up the Gowanus Canal Community just received massive local, state, national and international news coverage by documenting cancer-causing toxic indoor air pollution concerns at a popular club located at 514 Union Street, Brooklyn.  Our powerful new campaign is a joint effort with Toxic Targeting, an environmental data firm.

    Beginning in March 2021, State health and environmental authorities knew highly toxic trichloroethylene contamination was detected in indoor air at more than 20 times the Department of Health protection guideline of two micrograms/cubic meter.  State authorities never alerted the public about the problem for nearly two years until VOG and Toxics Targeting broke the scandalous story on March 9th.

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    Call to Action: Call Hochul!

    We need your action today! 

    Listen to us on WNYC today and read the story in Gothamist!

    Then please call Hochul's office: (518) 474 - 8390

    Please, identify yourself as a Gowanus resident. Complain that you were never alerted to the problems at 514 Union St, Royal Palms Shuffleboard.

    Explain why it's important to the health and safety of our residents as well as their patrons and employees. Explain and why you care!

    Please DEMAND that we need Gov. Hochul to comprehensively clean up 514 Union Street and all the other massively polluted toxic sites in Gowanus!

    Current DEC cleanup efforts are pathetically bad and unacceptable. We cannot allow housing development on toxic sites. We must fully remediate before redevelopment!

    Hochul must enforce the law to protect public health. 514 Union Street needs to be remediated to "pre-disposal" conditions.


    Again the number to Hochul's office is:

    (518) 474 - 8390


    Listen to us on WNYC


    Read the story


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    NYS DEC's Royal F Up featured on Gothamist


    Please read today's lead story on Gothamist. "Toxic fumes detected at popular Brooklyn shuffleboard club for past 2 years"

    FOR TWO YEARS the State's DEC knew that the ground under Royal Palms was toxic and that people were being exposed to 10,000 times the allowable amount of cancer causing gas vapors. And what did they do about it? They claim to have shared it in their newsletter. That's it. How is this protecting our health and safety? How are we supposed to trust that our State Agencies are looking out for the public's best interest when this is how they behave? 

    Toxic sites must not be redeveloped until they are comprehensively cleaned up and restored to pre-disposal conditions as required by NYS law!

    Read it now.


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