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Brooklyn Canoe Club Organizes Race Through Gowanus Canal

Sign from the Gowanus Dredgers boat launch. (credit: John Montone/1010 WINS)

Sign from the Gowanus Dredgers boat launch. (credit: John Montone/1010 WINS)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Are you up for the Gowanus Challenge?

A Brooklyn canoe club is organizing a 2.5-mile boat race through the heavily polluted Gowanus Canal which was declared a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2010.

In 2011, the EPA called the canal “one of the most contaminated water bodies in the nation.” Earlier this year, a sickly dolphin died after becoming stranded in the contaminated canal.

But despite the canal’s oily green chemical-laden waters, Owen Foote, co-founder of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, said the mile-long trip out to the bay is all beauty and wildlife.

“We see tugboats, sunsets, a tremendous amount of wildlife,” Foote said, admitting that there are some downsides to paddling through a Superfund site. “The canal, whether you’re on land or on water, can sometimes be a bit smelly, but once you’re out in Gowanus Bay you really don’t smell it at all.”

Although the canal has been dubbed the “Venice of Brooklyn” by real estate developers, the Dredgers say it’s “Brooklyn’s Coolest Superfund Site.”

Brooklyn resident Larry Buchanan said he can’t wait hit the toxic waters.

“The cut of that paddle right through that oily sheen will be a nice change,” Buchanan said. “It sounds awesome to jump into, not literally, but jump into and canoe on.”

The Dredgers were founded in 1999 “to provide safe access to the waterfront and to educate the community about the estuary,” according to the group’s website.

The June 15 race is the first ever to be held completely on a Superfund site, according to the event’s website.

Are you interested in the race? Let us know below…