State Environmental Authorities Failed to Alert Gowanus Canal Residents About Toxic Concerns at Highly Popular Entertainment Venue

News Release

For immediate release.

For more info, contact:  Walter Hang (607) 592 2414; Katia Kelly (347) 596 5424

  • State Environmental Authorities Failed to Alert Gowanus Canal Residents About Toxic Concerns at Highly Popular Entertainment Venue
  • Voice of Gowanus Requests Comprehensive Cleanup of 514 Union Street Site Due to Documented Toxic Indoor Air Quality Concerns
  • State Reportedly Has No Plans to Enforce Strict Remediation Standards For High-Level Solvents Identified in On-Site Soils and Groundwater
  • State Failure to Restore Gowanus Toxic Sites to "Pre-Disposal Conditions" as Required by Law Decried as "Unacceptable" and "Inexcusable"

Voice of Gowanus (VOG), a local community coalition, today requested that Governor Hochul require a comprehensive cleanup of high-level chlorinated solvents, toxic metals and petroleum contamination documented at a highly popular entertainment venue located at 514 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY in strict compliance with all applicable State remediation requirements. 

VOG posted a letter that it submitted to the Governor's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC): Please Do Not Adopt the Fatally Flawed Proposed "expedited cleanup of contamination at 514 Union Street," Brownfield Site # C224318.

"Residents of the Gowanus Canal community will be shocked that State environmental authorities never alerted the public to toxic indoor air pollution concerns at one of the most popular local entertainment venues where cancer-causing chlorinated solvents were documented in 2021 more than 20-fold above a New York Department of Health Guideline," said Katia Kelley, a member of VOG who is an At-Large member of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group. "As a result, tens of thousands of residents might have been exposed to increased health risks by breathing potentially polluted indoor air at the site," Ms. Kelly added.

According to detailed monitoring results available from the DEC, potentially cancer-causing chlorinated solvents were documented in indoor air at the site.  In 2021, trichloroethylene was identified at more than 20-fold above the New York Department of Health Guideline of two micrograms/cubic meter.  Trichloroethylene was documented in soils under the site at more than 10,000-fold above that guideline and poses a continuing indoor air threat despite efforts to vent pollution that intrudes into indoor air.

DEC has publicly stated that it has no plans to remediate all the toxic contamination documented at the site in strict compliance with state standards even though it potentially threatens thousands of local residents in the area. 

"Governor Hochul is facing withering criticism for failing to enforce a State legal mandate to restore toxic sites in the Gowanus Canal community to 'pre-disposal conditions,'" said Walter Hang, President of Toxics Targeting, Inc. an environmental database firm that recently documented more than three dozen massively polluted toxic sites around the Gowanus Canal that State authorities failed to remediate on a comprehensive basis for decades.  "Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently criticized Governor Hochul's administration for its inadequate toxic cleanup proposals," added Hang.