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.
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 🙏.
"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
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.
"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.
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.Read more
We are so excited for our Music Activism Fundraiser live on Tuesday May 30!
Exploring culture through sound. 🔊 Unifying communities through hospitality. 👀 Respecting earth and its inhabitants. 233 Butler St. Brooklyn. Doors: 7pm
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.
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.
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.
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.Read more
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:
Listen to us on WNYC
Read the story
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!