Gowanus Canal, New York
A more recent addition (2010) to the Superfund program's national priorities list, the Gowanus Canal is a murky, sewage-filled waterway that runs straight through the population center of Brooklyn, N.Y. Although the canal has long been at the center of environmental concerns, awareness recently ramped up after the construction of the Barclays Center (home of the Brooklyn Nets), which introduced excess stress on the surrounding sewage infrastructure.
The problems go beyond just sewage overflow, however. The canal is one of the nation's most extensively contaminated water bodies, containing everything from PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. And yet, it is also still used by the public for recreational activities and even fishing.
In January 2013, a dolphin that had inadvertently swum into the canal made headlines after it died while struggling to get out.
The EPA has proposed a seven-layered plan for cleaning up the Gowanus. It begins with dredging through the sewage-lined canal bottom, and follows with a series of "caps" to seal off the contaminated canal bed.