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.”