Where will the Gowanus Canal’s toxic sludge go?

The Brooklyn Paper
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Dredging the Gowanus Canal is one thing — deciding what to do with the polluted muck recovered from the waterway is another challenge altogether. After scraping up tons of toxic sludge from the bottom of the canal, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering seven ways to dispose of the contaminated mess:

• Barging the waste to a treatment plant, then sending it off to a landfill.

• Trucking the muck to a treatment plant, before banishing it to a landfill.

• Burning the treated sludge with coal to generate electricity, in a process known as cogeneration.

• Turning the foul substance into landfill for another, unspecified project.

• Converting the toxic goop into concrete blocks for use around the canal.

• Storing the contaminated material in a confined facility at an undisclosed location.

• Stashing the stuff in a similarly impenetrable place somewhere near the Gowanus.

Of course, the feds don’t have to worry about the problem just yet: the actual clean-up of the canal isn’t scheduled to start until 2016, at the earliest. But that hasn’t stopped neighbors of the foul-smelling body of water from wondering what will happen to all that dirty mud.

“Who would possibly accept it — and where is going to get stored before it gets moved?” said Bill Appel, the executive director of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation. “There’s a lot of unanswered questions.”

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at

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Reader Feedback

Moses from Park Slope says:
This is not an explainer
Jan. 12, 2012, 9:08 am
Josef from Clinton Hill says:
a discussion of the pros and cons of each potential strategy would not go amiss, but absent that I'm voting for cogeneration.
Jan. 17, 2012, 1:21 pm
Dave from Park Slope says:
Can we dump it on Bruce Ratner's head like Gatorade if the Nets ever reach the .500 mark?
Jan. 23, 2012, 11:31 pm

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