Part 11


EPA, NYC brace for grueling cleanups of 2 industrial waterways

NEW YORK -- Floating garbage and oil slicks run the 2-mile length of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal.

From an industrial area on its southern reaches to residential areas in the north, the canal has long been an eyesore and a nuisance for its neighbors who fear that just sniffing its fumes can make them sick.

Farther north, on the Brooklyn-Queens borough line, Newtown Creek is also in lousy shape. Fouled by chemicals and wastewater, the creek -- a branch of the East River -- was a booming port during World War II and is still home to refineries, cement factories and scrap-metal processing plants.

After being all but ignored by local and state agencies for decades, the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek are now poised to become two of the nation's most expensive and politically charged cleanup projects. Scrubbing more than 150 years of industrial pollution in the Gowanus could cost up to $500 million, with Newtown Creek -- which is more industrialized and a mile-and-a-half longer than the Gowanus -- expected to cost still more.

"It's very interesting that we got these two big urban waterway projects going on almost at the same time," said Judith Enck, the administrator of U.S. EPA's Region 2 office in New York.

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About This Report

E&E New York bureau chief Nathanial Gronewold examines the city’s multifront battle to improve energy efficiency, reduce pollution and rebuild crumbling infrastructure.


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