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10 examples of why the Superfund program matters

By: Bryan Nelson on Oct. 12, 2017, 11:20 a.m.
Gowanus Canal

Photo: Missy S./Flickr

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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, New York. 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 2013, a dolphin that had inadvertently swum into the canal made headlines after it died while struggling to get out.

The EPA has identified more than two dozen parties responsible for the Gowanus Canal's condition, and finalized its cleanup plan in 2013. The effort — which includes debris removal, dredging and other remediation — isn't expected to be complete until at least 2022.