DEVELOPERS FLOUT EPA
PILE DRIVE INTO TOXIN-FILLED GOWANUS SITE
COMMUNITY GROUP FILES INJUNCTION IN COURT TO PREVENT FURTHER DEVELOPER RECKLESSNESS AS JUNE 15TH DEADLINE FOR 421a APPROACHES
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.