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About The Project

The Gowanus Canal is a 100-foot wide, 1.8-mile-long canal located in Brooklyn, New York City. The canal was built in the mid 1800s and was used as a major industrial transportation route. Many historic industries operated along the canal, leaving a legacy of industrial pollution. Additionally, contamination flows into the canal from combined sewer overflow outfalls.

In 2009 the US EPA proposed adding the Gowanus Canal to the National Priorities List, also known as the Superfund program. EPA studied the Canal and surrounding areas and developed the 2012 Proposed Remedial Action Plan to remediate the site. After a public comment period, the EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) in 2013 that formally selected a remedy for the canal.

The 2013 ROD divides the canal into three segments known as Remediation Target Areas (RTA 1, RTA 2, and RTA 3). In November of 2020 remedial work began in RTA 1, the upper section of the canal between Butler Street and 3rd Street.

Contaminated sediment will be dredged from the canal bed within each RTA and processed and transformed into a beneficial-use product, such as landfill cover or otherwise disposed of. In areas of the canal where contamination exists in the deeper native sediment, multiple layers of clean material will be placed to cap the contamination. In target segments of the canal In-Situ Stabilization will be employed. Additional dredging and restoration will take place at the 5th Street Turning Basin and the former 1st Street Turning Basin.

The edges of the canal are supported by bulkheads that prevent the soil from eroding or collapsing into the waterway. In some areas, the existing bulkheads will be supported as a part of the cleanup to ensure the structural integrity of the canal banks while the dredging is taking place.

The remedy relies on the control of upland sources of contamination to the canal, some of which are being addressed as an additional part of the Superfund clean-up, while others are being addressed through New York State’s Brownfields program. The ROD also calls for the construction of two CSO retention tanks in the upper canal to protect the integrity of the Superfund remedy that will be implemented in the canal.

Read The Latest Progress Update

Read The Latest Public Notice

From our FAQ:

Will there be public access along the Gowanus Canal?

There may be changes to public access for pedestrians and motorists who wish to travel across or near the canal during construction. Frequent bridge openings are needed for Gowanus Remediation Team (GRT) vessels and private construction vessels to traverse the canal. In order for a vessel to pass a bridge, the bridge must be opened and the corresponding roadway temporarily closed. Bridges may also be closed to roadway traffic for scheduled maintenance work. These bridge openings can cause delays and detours for roadway traffic. Huntington Street, east of Smith Street, will be closed until further notice to accommodate the GRT staging area. There are restrictions on recreational boating activities as approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities.

Read The Latest EPA Fact Sheet

For more information, please visit the USEPA’s Gowanus Superfund site.