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EPA Puts Gowanus Canal on Superfund Priorities List

On March 2, 2010, EPA added the Gowanus Canal to the Agency’s Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). Placing the Canal on the list allows the agency to further investigate contamination at the site and develop an approach to address the contamination.

The Gowanus Canal, in Brooklyn, New York, is bounded by several communities including Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook. The canal empties into New York Harbor. Completed in 1869, the canal was once a major transportation route for the then-separate cities of Brooklyn and New York City. Manufactured gas plants, mills, tanneries, and chemical plants are among the many facilities that operated along the canal.

As a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation's most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. The contamination poses a threat to the nearby residents who use the canal for fishing and recreation.

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