New Gowanus Canal Pollution Report Reveals State Environmental Authorities Have Failed to Remediate Dozens of Documented


  • Toxic Health Hazards Threaten Gowanus Community due to Governor Hochul's Lax Enforcement of State Mandate Requiring Cleanup of Toxic Sites to "Pre-Disposal Conditions"

  • Increased Climate Change Flooding Threatens to Spread Unremediated Toxic Contamination Throughout Gowanus Canal Developed Areas

  • EPA's $1.5 Billion Gowanus Canal Remediation Imperiled by State's Inadequate Removal of Shoreline Cancer-Causing Coal Tar 150-Feet Deep

  • Voice of Gowanus, a Brooklyn community coalition, today released a new Gowanus Canal Environmental Database Report that documents that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has failed to comprehensively remediate dozens of toxic sites that contaminate one of the most impaired waterways in the nation with chlorinated solvents, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), petroleum, heavy metals and cancer-causing coal tar 150-feet deep. 


DEC's lax enforcement of strict toxic remediation requirements imperils public health and threatens to recontaminate a $1.5 billion Gowanus Canal cleanup being undertaken by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Increased climate change flooding could spread toxics throughout a densely developed area. 

"Residents of the Gowanus Canal community will be shocked to learn that Governor Hochul is not enforcing public health and environmental protection laws at one of the most toxic waterways in America," said Seth Hillinger. "Our coalition respectfully wrote the Governor to request that she safeguard public health by removing cancer-causing coal tar up to 150 feet deep along the Gowanus Canal and remediating dozens of toxic sites to 'pre-disposal conditions' as mandated by state law," Mr. Hillinger added. 

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

Voice of Gowanus posted for public review extensive DEC data that document the agency has no plans to remove immense quantities of high-level toxic pollution and enforce comprehensive remediation requirements at 38 documented toxic sites which pollute the Gowanus Canal. 

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

New York State's inadequate remediation of dozens of polluted toxic sites along the Gowanus Canal's shoreline threatens to recontaminate areas where EPA is dredging nearly 600,000 cubic yards of "highly contaminated sediment" from the canal at a cost of $1.5 billion. 


Regarding its Gowanus Canal cleanup plan, EPA warned: 

"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)." 

The three MGPs and dozens of "upland sources of contamination" remain polluted because Governor Hochul fails to enforce a critical State Environmental Remediation Program requirement codified in 6 NYCRR (New York Codes, Rules and Regulations) PART 375-2.8 (a): 

"The goal of the remedial program for a specific site is to restore that site to pre-disposal conditions (emphasis added), to the extent feasible." 

Many unremediated toxic sites threaten the health of local residents by releasing soil gas vapors that can intrude into homes, schools, businesses and other structures. This concern is widely documented all over the Gowanus Canal area. 

Unremediated toxic contamination also could be spread by increased flooding associated with climate change because enormous quantities of Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (LNAPL), such as petroleum contamination, underlie many of the toxic sites surrounding the Gowanus Canal. This concern was widely documented after Superstorm Sandy released large volumes of petroleum that were never cleaned up along shorelines throughout New York City. 

"Governor Hochul's irresponsible disregard for enforcing State toxic cleanup mandates threatens the health of tens of thousands of Gowanus Canal residents, including many low-income, minority citizens who are the community's most vulnerable members," said Walter Hang, President of Toxics Targeting, an environmental database firm that compiled the DEC data. "Governor Hochul must remove all the cancer-causing coal tar documented around the Gowanus Canal or EPA's $1.5 billion dredging project could become an exercise in futility as the canal becomes recontaminated in years to come," Hang noted.