A recent presentation by someone I respect a great deal discussing community issues: (whole video is 1 hour but very much worth it!)
As we were watching footage of Hurricane Irene's effects on New York City, Joy and I saw footage on NY1 that looked like the Gowanus canal flooded pretty high, flowing around vehicles. Those who aren't familiar with the unique smell of the Gowanus canal may not realize how gross that thought is. The Gowanus Canal is one of America's most polluted waterways, including both the water itself and the soil around it, saturated by years of pollution.
Local developers, Mayor Bloomberg, and many local politicians had wanted to develop the Gowanus Canal with hotels and luxury housing. Now this COULD be a good idea if it wasn't for the all that pollution. Thanks to considerable efforts on the part of community activists, the Gowanus Canal has been declared a Superfund site, so it is finally getting cleaned up. Here is what the EPA has to say:
As a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation's most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. The contamination poses a threat to the nearby residents who use the canal for fishing and recreation.
In fact, since the EPA declared it a Superfund site, it has found that the site is even more contaminated than everyone thought!
Sounds like a perfect place for hotels and a Whole Foods (which is still being built!).
Here is YouTube footage of the flooding near the Gowanus canal near Smith and 9th St:
Joy and I went walking with Jacob to check out the canal after the waters had receded. To give an idea what is right across the street from the future site of Whole Foods, here is a picture Joy took of the water on the shore across by the 3rd St. Bridge:
Well, perhaps soon my wife's pictures of the slime in the Gowanus canal (we beat the NY Times to it by more than a year) may become a thing of the past. Today the United States Environmental Protection Agency finally designated the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site, designated for cleanup. I think we can all greet this with relief, with the exception of developers who wanted to develop the site with stink and slime intact for reasons which I cannot understand unless their greed has just decayed their common sense. I can only imagine real estate agents trying to move luxury apartments as that Gowanus stink wafted on the breeze.
But now a real cleanup is in the works thanks to Obama's EPA. Here is the Press release from State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, an early supporter (along with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Columbia University’s Urban Design Lab) of Superfund designation as the best way to clean up the canal:
Senator Velmanette Montgomery on EPA Superfunding the Gowanus Canal:
THANK YOU! read more »
As Joy, Jacob and I strolled along Union Street, we noticed that even in the middle of winter (Feb. 20, 2010) the Gowanus Canal stank. And when we neared it, this is what we saw.
Photos by Joy Romanski
View from Union St. Bridge over the Gowanus:
This week was the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. And, 25 years later, the disaster continues.
On Dec. 2nd and 3rd, 1984, the criminal negligence killed some 20,000 people and left over 100,000 affected. And corporate America, responsible for this disaster, has done almost nothing to clean up the mess and take responsibility in the past 25 years.
In Bhopal no-one uses the term "accident" to describe the calamity that took place here in the early hours of 3 December 1984.
For "accident" implies blamelessness. And in Bhopal the hunger for justice among those who suffered seems undiminished.
Those who survived remember the terrible randomness of it.
Eyewitnesses saw a dense cloud of poisonous gas settle on the slum areas that crowded the Union Carbide pesticide plant...
The Chingari Rehabilitation Centre is a small charitable organisation - a drop-in day centre for children born with severe disabilities, whose parents were exposed to the gas.
"These are the second generation affected," says Tarun Thomas, who runs Chingari. read more »