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Feds to name Newtown Creek a Superfund site on Monday

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn now officially has two toxic bookends, thanks to a federal move to designate the Newtown Creek as a Superfund site — the first step in what could be a 10-year, half-billion-dollar clean-up.

The move, which sources said the Environmental Protection Agency will announce on Monday, follows the agency’s declaration of the Gowanus Canal as a similarly fetid waterway in March.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and city officials declined to comment on Saturday about the imminent announcement to put the

3.8-mile waterway between Brooklyn and Queens under federal oversight.

Locals have mostly been in favor of adding the creek to the Superfund list, though some opposition has come from small industrial businesses abutting the creek and oil companies that may end up footing the bill for the clean-up.

City officials — who objected to the Superfunding of the Gowanus Canal on the grounds that it would chill residential development in the slowly gentrifying area between Park Slope and Carroll Gardens — quietly backed the federal effort along the Newtown Creek, a move that some saw has hypocritical.

With little possibility of development along the Newtown Creek, the befouled kill had an easy path to EPA designation.

“The creek is in an unacceptable state,” said Newtown Creek Alliance member Evan Thies. “The only agency with the authority and resources to make a thorough clean-up successful at Newtown Creek is the EPA.”

The creek, one of the most polluted waterways in the northeast, contains a toxic mix of chemicals that have leaked from its industrial banks in both Brooklyn and Queens for more than 150 years, but the pollution was only first discovered by the Coast Guard in 1978. Federal officials estimate that it could take between 10 and 15 years to clean up completely and have not estimated its cost.

The cost to clean up the Gowanus Canal is estimated between $300 to $500 million.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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