Mass conjecture about the filthy Gowanus Canal has been swirling for years—the source of its eerie purple hue, the number of bodies and missing pets undulating gently in its fetid waters—and in another three years, steps will be taken to make it slightly less filthy. Not like, clean clean, but clean enough that if you stick your hand in it, it won't immediately disintegrate.
The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday finalized its plan to clean up the canal, which happens to be one of the most polluted waterways in the country. The process will entail removing "contaminated sediment" and "the capping of dredged areas," as well as reducing sewage overflows in order that the estimated $506 million clean-up effort isn't in vain.
More good news, for Brooklyn residents, anyway. "Community input" has led the EPA to retract its plan to drop the refuse in neighboring Red Hook, and will now dump the contaminated matter at a facility "out of the area"...so Queens, probably. No no, the press release says: It will be "thermally treated for the removal of the organic contaminants" and then put to "beneficial reuse," like a landfill cover or locally-sourced artisanal Silly Putty.
So what's in the canal, anyway? Lots of things! Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are formed "during the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage or other organic substances." Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which were used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment before they were banned in 1979. Also, heavy metals like mercury, lead and copper.
In a scant 10 years, the canal will...still not be suitable for swimming...or fishing BUT you can boat in it, maybe! Except people already do that—why are we doing this again?