The Gowanus Canal Could Make For A Literal $#!-Storm

The metals, excrement, and other toxic sludge in the Gowanus Canal could rain down upon Brooklyn’s most expensive neighborhoods. Park Slope, and Carroll Gardens may also be affected.


New York Magazine warns that when Hurricane Irene meets the highly polluted Gowanus Canal, the result could be a “toxic shitstorm” raining down on some of the most gentrified neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

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So, just how polluted is the Gowanus?

Beginning in 1869, the Gowanus Canal was a major shipping route for coal yards, gas plants, soap factories, sulfur producers, and many other industries; each with their own unique hazardous byproducts. In addition, sewers from neighborhoods far and wide drain into the canal.

In 1955 the US Army Corp of Engineers first dredged the canal, but soon after abandoned the project due to the high costs.

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In March, 2010, the US Environmental Protection Agency designated the Gowanus a federal Superfund Site, estimated cleanup costs in excess of $300 million, and a projected duration of nine years.

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The Gowanus at low tide in 2005.

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And here we see residents of nearby Carroll Gardens ironically lauding the effects of gentrification.

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