Version en Espanol esta aqui

Dear Red Hook,

We have all been focused on the effects of hurricane Sandy, and now PortSide would like to draw your attention to another important waterfront issue which will affect Red Hook.  It relates to the Gowanus Canal which defines our eastern and southern border. 

In a process that has run for about two years, the EPA (federal Environmental Protection Agency) has declared the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site (or one of our nation’s most toxic places); and December 28, 2012, they released their plan for how they propose to clean up the canal. This is a complex issue which requires careful consideration and, hate to say it, some homework!   

An interactive EPA map of the Gowanus is here.  Wikipedia's definition of a Superfund is here and their history of the canal is here.

Get informed and/or speak at some important meetings relating to the EPA Superfund proposed plan this week: 
Wed 1/23/13, 6:30-9:00pm P.S. 58, Carroll Gardens

Thurs 1/24/13 7:00-9:00pm PAL Miccio Center, Red Hook

*note that the Red Hook meeting starts later than the Carroll Gardens Meeting; that is not a typo!)

* Simultaneous Spanish translation will be available at the meeting in Red Hook.

EPA meeting flyers to share

EPA plan is here

The EPA is receiving public comments until March 28, 2013.  Comments may be sent to GowanusCanalComments.Region2@epa.gov.

Questions may be directed to

Natalie Loney

Community Involvement Coordinator
Tel 212-637-3639
Fax 212-637-4445

Hard copies of the EPA Gowanus Superfund plan are at:

Carroll Gardens Library

396 Clinton St.

Brooklyn, NY 11231

Joseph Miccio Community Center

110 West 9th Street

Brooklyn, NY 11231

EPA-Region II

Superfund Records Center

290 Broadway, 18th Floor

New York, NY 10007-1866


More background

The EPA plans to dredge (remove) toxic materials from the bottom of the canal, and mandates that New York City stop allowing sewage to run into the canal during rain storms.  Red Hook has been identified as a possible location to place dredge material in a “confined disposal facility” or CDF.  

There is currently a proposal for a Red Hook CDF at GBX-Gowanus Bay Terminal generated by GBX in consultation with the EPA

Any dredge material that would go into a local CDF would be of the least toxic grade (there are 3 levels of toxicity in the Gowanus) and would come from the Gowanus waters nearest GBX (eg, south of the Hamilton Avenue Bridge.)

In prior meetings, the EPA has also explained that dredge material could be remediated locally or shipped away for remediation.  The GBX-Gowanus Bay Terminal includes a proposal for local remediation at their site.

In plain English, remediation means that the dredge material has been treated so that it is no longer toxic to a degree that causes concern. 

Nearly half a billion dollars will be spent on remediation, so this Superfund process represents a chance for economic development and jobs in addition to the environmental clean-up. 

PortSide wants to encourage Red Hook to get more involved. 

Red Hook has been less involved with this Superfund process than other communities along the Gowanus Canal and Gowanus Bay.   

We encourage you to seek out a local community group, the Superfund “Community Advisory Group” or CAG (prounced like gag with a K at the start) whose members have a lot of expertise on the technical and environmental issues as well as the political process. The CAG is open to anyone, and could be a resource to Red Hook as this process moves forward.

Note, there is another Superfund site in New York City, the Newtown Creek.  The Newtown Creek Alliance is a community group very involved with their Superfund process, and the Newtown Creek Superfund CAG website is here