In a move disappointing to the city of New York but a relief to residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the Gowanus Canal, the Environmental Protection Agency designated the 1.8 mile canal a Superfund site, whose clean-up will now be supervised by the Federal Government.
The city is afraid that the Superfund label could trigger legal battles with those polluting the canal, unnecessarily prolong the dredging of the canal, and scare away future developers because of the stigma surrounding the Superfund label.
On the other hand, according to Judith A. Enck, the E.P.A. regional administrator, designation of Superfund status assures the best possible results for the residents, the environment and guarantees that the tap will be picked up by the parties responsible for the pollution of the canal.
The EPA estimates the clean-up operation will take between 10 and 12 years at a cost of $300 to $500 million, compared to the city’s estimated nine years for the clean-up.
“It was the right thing to do” said Marlene Donnelly, a leader of the neighborhood group Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus. “It’s the beginning of a plan to start the restorative process for the Gowanus area.”
“But we are going to work closely with the E.P.A. because we share the same goal: a clean canal” he added.