EPA: No decision yet for Gowanus
The fate of the Gowanus Canal will remain in limbo, as the Environmental Protection Agency told this paper it will not be handing down a decision this week on whether to name the foul waterway a Superfund site.
While considered slim, there was a possibility the agency would have designated the canal a Superfund site when it updated its National Priorities List on Sept. 16.
“Based on the number of comments, it will take a significant amount of time to do them justice and respond,” said EPA spokesperson Elias Rodriguez. The agency has received close to 800 comments from the public about the proposed listing, he said.
“In some cases, the comments are very technical and can take a lot of time,” Rodriguez noted, adding that the quantity of comments “is a very large number and reflects high public interest.”
Rodriguez said the agency is reviewing every comment and preparing a responsiveness summary, which provides a comprehensive response to all major comments and concerns raised by the community/interested parties. “No decision will be made until that review is completed,” he said.
He said he could not give a time frame for a future announcement. The agency will next update the National Priorities List in March.
In April, the agency proposed conferring on the canal Superfund status, a title reserved for the country’s most polluted sites. The proposal generated relief from those who have waited years for the canal to be adequately cleaned, and revulsion from those who fear the Superfund ‘stigma’ could threaten hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment planned along the waterway.
Under the Superfund program, those responsible for the pollution pay for the cleanup or face still penalties. As this paper has reported, the EPA has already dispatched letters to National Grid, Consolidated Edison and Chemtura Corporation, alerting them they could be potentially responsible for cleaning the canal. The Bloomberg administration, which opposes the designation, has proposed an alternative scheme it says will remediate the canal up to the same standard as a federally overseen job.
By Gary Buiso
New York Post