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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Friday, March 05, 2010

    Brooklyn Focus: The Gowanus Canal Designated a Superfund Site

    Well, perhaps soon my wife's pictures of the slime in the Gowanus canal (we beat the NY Times to it by more than a year) may become a thing of the past. Today the United States Environmental Protection Agency finally designated the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site, designated for cleanup. I think we can all greet this with relief, with the exception of developers who wanted to develop the site with stink and slime intact for reasons which I cannot understand unless their greed has just decayed their common sense. I can only imagine real estate agents trying to move luxury apartments as that Gowanus stink wafted on the breeze.

    But now a real cleanup is in the works thanks to Obama's EPA. Here is the Press release from State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, an early supporter (along with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Columbia University’s Urban Design Lab) of Superfund designation as the best way to clean up the canal:

    Senator Velmanette Montgomery on EPA Superfunding the Gowanus Canal:

    I congratulate the people of Brooklyn on today’s announcement by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that the Gowanus Canal will be listed on the National Priorities Registry.

    I was proud to stand with the local Gowanus residents who overwhelmingly said “Superfund Me!” And today we know our voices were heard. We know that this is the beginning of a lengthy process, but we are confident that with the oversight of the EPA, and their extensive experience and success in dealing with highly polluted areas like the Gowanus Canal that this complicated job will be done thoroughly, professionally, and to recognized international standards. I am confident that New York City and Brooklyn will gain enormously as we reclaim the long-ignored Lavender Lake and transform it into a vibrant, healthy, natural resource to the benefit of us all.

    Thank you, everyone who contributed their personal knowledge and contributed to today’s decision. And thank you to the EPA for hewing to the science. All of us look forward to working with you on this long overdue reclamation.



    The Gowanus Canal runs for 1.8 miles from Gowanus Bay into central Brooklyn. For over 100 years it served as an industrial waterway and was lined with industries that scarred the waterway with a legacy of pollution, including heavy metals and pesticides. After decades of consideration, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in 2009 asked the United States Environmental Protection Agency to consider listing the Canal on the National Priorities Register (Superfund).

    Senator Montgomery was the first elected official to formally and enthusiastically urge the EPA, for the future health and prosperity of the Gowanus region, to Superfund the Gowanus.

    More information can be found here.

    I predict people like Buddy Scotto and the over-eager developers who want immediate development, might mount a legal challenge to the Superfund designation. But one smell of the canal stink should convince people of the need. Or, more rigorously, statements from the likes of the Army Corps of Engineers should pretty much blow any arguments mounted by the Scotto side out of the water.

    I am sure that cleanup will take time, with or without legal battles. But I think we can look at today as the first real step to waving good bye to sights like this along the canal (photo taken by Joy Romanski July 26, 2008)


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