Tank rolls toward Gowanus park

The Brooklyn Paper
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The federal government is rolling forward with plans to install a massive sewage tank beneath a beloved park and pool as part of its clean-up of the fetid Gowanus Canal, closing the play space for years, unless the city comes up with a better idea.

Representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is overseeing the Superfund clean-up, said on Wednesday night that they will build the underground tank beneath the Thomas Greene Playground and adjoining “Double-D” pool unless city leaders propose another viable site before next August.

“The city can recommend other locations if they think they are better locations, so we’re not locked into those locations,” Superfund project manager Christos Tsiamis said at a community meeting. “But within nine months, we will have to know where those tanks are going to go so we can start the design.”

The planned tank is one of two $78 million underground containers meant to catch sewage that wells up in the area’s antiquated sewer system when it rains and keep the muck from spilling into the polluted waterway. The feds added the tanks to the plan, which originally called for just scraping the toxic crud off the bottom of the canal, after researchers found cancer-causing chemicals in sewage runoff and determined that it would be pointless to clean the channel one way and have it continue to flood with a mixture of toilet water, gasoline, and coal tar during hard rains.

One tank will hold four-million gallons of the stuff and the other eight, though the environmental agency has not said which will go where. The second tank is slated for a canal-side, city-owned lot on Fifth Street at Second Avenue that is used to store road salt and is used by the Gowanus Conservancy to garden.

The city is on the hook for a large chunk of the federally-mandated, $506-million clean-up and has fought the Superfund designation every step of the way, saying that the plan, and especially the tanks, are unnecessary and too expensive.

Park partisans have vowed to fight the placement of the tanks in their playground, unsatisfied by the feds’ promise to provide a temporary replacement rec area during the years-long construction process.

The pool’s future is threatened on another front because it sits directly above a plot of contaminated land where the former Fulton Manufactured Gas Plant operated from 1879 to 1929. The state may require energy giant National Grid to clean up the polluted land, which could also require major backhoe action.

Nor is this the first time residents have circled the wagons around Double-D. Back in 2010, the city planned to close the pool due to budget cuts, but opposition from residents and politicians, including Borough President Markowitz, kept it open.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jimmy B from South Brooklyn says:
I wonder how this is gonna play out under bDb? Bill was anti-superfund and superfund supergal Nydia didnt endorse him in the primary
Nov. 14, 2013, 1:33 pm
Joe from Gowanus says:
After the EPA spends $500B and destroys a local park/playground in 10yrs, fish caught in our Canal will still contain dangerous levels of contaminants, Canal water will be polluted with sewage and street water overflow during rainfall and we will not be allowed to swim in it.

When asked, the EPA scientist said, why would anyone ever want to swim in Gowanus? Not one other river cleaned by Superfund prohibits swimming after cleanup but EPA thinks it's OK to take away our pool and leave Gowanus residents with a water full of sh*t.
Nov. 15, 2013, 12:18 pm
Adrastos from BathBeach says:
This is pure insanity that anyone in their right mind would think to install sewerage tanks under a swimming pool.

Do we have morons working for our City?

Why not put the tanks in portions of the Gowanus Canal that are the basins? But under a swimming pool where little children spend their summer days?

people need to read up on "Love Canal", not a joke.

Now they tell us the land under the pool is contaminated anyway, WTF, now they realize this.

and then there are developers want to put luxury condos along the banks of the canal.

Nov. 15, 2013, 7:06 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
Luxury condos along the banks of the Gowanus would probably massively accelerate the remediation efforts. Nothing drives action like property values. I think it would be great to see the canal transform from a cesspool to a living body of water in our lifetimes.
Nov. 16, 2013, 5:30 pm
Lois from the neighborhood says:
Adrastos, the insanity is that the pool currently sits on top of a major toxic chemical dumping ground and all those toxic chemicals are not being held inside any kind of holding tank.

Why would it be so off the wall to replace that free flow toxic ground with a solid tank containing sewage? Why would anyone prefer the current situation over the cleanup plans?

the current situation is more than unbelievable, it is intolerable environmental injustice directed at our kids.
Nov. 20, 2013, 12:51 pm

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