Tag Archives: gowanus canal

In The EPA’s Heart Of Darkness

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to talk to a guy who does field work for the EPA. More specifically, his company works on EPA conflicts. Among the gems of his experience:

  • “You know what organisms are hurt the most by an oil spill? The people who clean it up. Remember the video of those people cleaning off ducks and and little mammals after the Valdez crashed? I can’t tell you how many have come down with cancers and bizarre diseases because they were exposed to those chemicals.” All the more reason for fisherman to tell BP to ram that job down their oil-holes.
  • “Yeah, about the Gowanus Canal Superfund status — they’re going to need to dredge 20 inches off the floor of that waterway. But where are they going to put all that silt? No state government is going to take it. It’ll be an Army Corps Of Engineers site and they’ll just burn it. They don’t have track any of the pollutant output, either.”
  • “If you want to watchdog the Gowanus process, get a coalition together and pool all the money into one legal team to monitor the reports. Otherwise you’ll go broke just trying to keep up. We don’t even pay attention to the list of (pollutants) anymore. It’s like it grows as you read it.”


Last week was devoured by a try-out for A Gig I Probably Shouldn’t Talk About Here and my checking account collapsing into a frothing, twitching mess. Oh and my cousin was in town! Nothing like family to give you perspective.

On SundayI went canoeing on a Superfund site, Brooklyn’s own Gowanus Canal. Of course, yours truly volunteered to paddle the 32 foot shipping-style canoe around from where it was moored to where the kiddies and such would board.

And of course, since it had been raining off and on all weekend, the canoe was about 1/3rd full of water and so it fell to me and the unflappable Pablo to bail it out. With one 5 gallon bucket between the two of us.

Honestly, I had a smashing time and it brought back fond memories of Scouts. And I still love to be on the water, even if it is a Superfund site. Luger of UDEC (awesome people…adventuring eco-heroes) schooled us Greens on how corporations like Verizon and various manufacturers abuse the canal by dumping sewage, illegally filling in inlets, and utterly failing to maintain their piece of the canal bank.

UDEC conducts sting operations on these companies to catch them in the act, because EPA doesn’t have the resources and the corporations try to get away with whatever they can. Externalities. The devilry of our time.

The Superfund status lasts twelve years, and we’ll need to fight and scrap for the money and resources needed to get the estuary up to spec. The goal? We want the canal so clean you can eat oysters from it. Imagine being able to canoe, fish, and watch bald eagles in Brooklyn.

The reason I started this post (haha) was to log that I’ve set up auto-recurring donation buttons at Green Party of Brooklyn. That’s right, baby, we’re taking GPBK into the late-20th century. It took forever just to get our bank information in the hands of the current officers. But we’re moving along! And not too soon, either, as the 2010 election season looms.