The $500 million Superfund cleanup of the canal is being paid for by 20 different parties and individuals responsible for polluting the waterway. The two largest contributors for the tab will be New York City and National Grid.
The EPA has split the canal into three sections and will use a method of dredging and sealing contaminated areas.
At a Community Board 6 Land Use Committee meeting, representatives from National Grid called for changes to the EPA’s proposal.
“All of the responsible parties should be involved,” said Andrew Prophete, Environmental Project Manager for National Grid.
Prophete was willing to admit that National Grid should be held responsible for helping with the cleanup, but he suggested some changes to the proposal.
He said that the EPA should cap the bottom of the entire canal rather than clean some portions first. One community board members said she was confused how that would be sufficient.
“It looks to me like most of the test sites were very high in metals and various PCBs,” she said “I can’t really imagine what you’re thinking when you say you’re only going to clean up hotspots.”
“In regions one and two we know that we have significant impacts,” replied Prophete. “But what we’re saying is that there are systems that you can put in place over these contaminated areas that have absorbing materials.”
He went on to say that the EPA’s plan to dredge the canal would cause toxins and other chemicals to flow through the water, essentially making the capping process less successful.
Prophete also argued the bulkheads lining the canal won't withstand the EPA's plan.
“The problem with the existing plan is that if you dredge down below you’re going to cause these bulkheads to fail,” he said. “We want to make sure that there is enough flexibility in the design. Don’t pigeonhole the solution.”