EPA finalizes NY Superfund site's $506M cleanup plan

Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of the nation's most seriously contaminated bodies of water, had its $506 million cleanup plan finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of the nation's most seriously contaminated bodies of water, had its $506 million cleanup plan finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The final plan, announced on 9/30 on the banks of the canal by EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck with Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, state and local officials and community representatives, will require the removal of contaminated sediment and the capping of dredged areas. The plan also includes controls to reduce sewage overflows and other land-based sources of contamination from compromising the cleanup. With community input, EPA has decided on the option in the proposed plan that will require the disposal of the least contaminated sediment at a facility out of the area rather than building a disposal facility in the water near Red Hook.

More than a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals, including mercury, lead and copper, were found at high levels in the sediment in the Gowanus Canal. PAHs and heavy metals were also found in the canal water. The final plan includes various methods for managing the contaminated sediment after dredging, depending on the levels of contamination. The methods include transporting the dredged sediment that is highly impacted by liquid coal tar away from the area to a facility where it will be thermally treated for the removal of the organic contaminants and then put to beneficial reuse such as a landfill cover, if possible. For the less contaminated sediment, treatment includes stabilization of the sediment at a facility out of the area, followed by beneficial reuse. In addition, the final EPA plan requires controls to significantly reduce the flow of contaminated sewage solids from combined sewer overflows into its upper canal.

The final plan includes various methods for managing the contaminated sediment after dredging, depending on the levels of contamination. The methods include transporting the dredged sediment that is highly impacted by liquid coal tar away from the area to a facility where it will be thermally treated for the removal of the organic contaminants and then put to beneficial reuse such as a landfill cover, if possible. For the less contaminated sediment, treatment includes stabilization of the sediment at a facility out of the area, followed by beneficial reuse.

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