$500 Mil Clean-Up Of Polluted Canal Is Fine But Not At Expense Of Neighborhood

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Every year, more than 400 million gallons of raw sewage leaks into the Gowanus Canal. The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing installing a sewage tank to help contain the waste, but it may come at a cost to a nearby community.

As though the murky water and putrid smell weren’t bad enough, neighbors who live near the Gowanus Canal are now concerned that they may be hit with yet another neighborhood nightmare, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported Monday.

“It’s a waste of our time and effort and the city’s money that we were able to use,” said Charlene Nimmons of Wyckoff Houses.

As much as $900,000 of just completed renovations made to the Douglass Greene Park are in jeopardy of being destroyed as part of the $500 million clean-up plan for the toxic, polluted canal.

“It may have to be dug up because of the contamination below it,” said EPA Superfund Director Walter Mugdan.

EPA officials said the ground below the park and the popular pool is already laden with toxins, so they’re proposing that it be used as a possible location for an 8 million gallon sewage tank.

But park goers said tearing down the park and pool would be devastating.

“It would scatter us,” Nimmons said.

“This is a very undeserved area in terms of park space, so that needs to be considered in any proposed clean-up plan,” said Sabine Aronowsky of Friends of Douglass Green Park.

When there’s heavy rainfall, sewage often overflows into the canal, so neighbors say they fully support a cleanup plan — just not one that takes away from their community.

“There is the possibility that the state may say we gotta dig out some of the contamination. If so, there’s a possibility that the pool might have to go either way,” Mugdan said.

The EPA insists no decision has been made, and that the city will ultimately choose where the tank will go.

Meanwhile, Nimmons and Aronowsky said they have already collected more than 700 signatures, protesting the proposal.

“It makes the polluters pay, not our children, not our community,” Aronowsky said.

The locals remain determined to keep the neighborhood anchor intact.

The EPA said it hopes to finalize a plan for the Gowanus Canal clean-up by the end of the year. The clean-up is not expected to begin until 2016 and could take five to seven years to complete, officials said.

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