Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York
The State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
My name is __________. I live at __________.
I write today because _______.
I respectfully request that you remediate all Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites, Brownfields, hazardous substance releases and other documented contamination threats to the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY in strict compliance with State mandates requiring comprehensive toxic cleanups to "pre-disposal conditions" and pollution spill "source removal" in order to fulfill all applicable regulatory requirements.
As documented by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) data presented below, it is beyond dispute that your administration, as well as earlier administrations you served in, routinely and systematically failed to remediate dozens of massively polluted toxic sites that contaminate the Gowanus Canal.
See: Public Health and Environmental Toxic Threats Along the Gowanus Canal That Reportedly Do Not Meet All Applicable Cleanup Standards
That is why this immensely impaired toxic waterway was included circa 2010 on the National Priorities List for Federal Superfund Cleanup. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of dredging nearly 600,000 cubic yards of "highly-contaminated sediment" from the canal at a cost of $1.5 billion.
Regarding this remediation, EPA declared that:
"The remedy relies on the control of upland sources of contamination to the Canal, including the remediation of three former MGP [Manufactured Gas Plants, not in the original] sites adjacent to the Canal--Carroll Gardens/Public Place (formerly known as "Citizens Gas Works"); former Metropolitan MGP, and former Fulton Municipal Works MGP (Fulton MGP) (emphasis added)."
See: Gowanus NPL
Your administration reportedly has no plans to remove cancer-causing coal tar contamination up to 150 feet deep at the three MGPs. In addition, DEC has failed to remediate more than 35 additional toxic sites "upland" of the Gowanus Canal in strict compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements.
As New York's Governor and Chief Executive, you have a duty to safeguard our state's public health and environment by strictly enforcing applicable laws and regulatory requirements. If you fail to require pollution source-removals at all "upland" Gowanus Canal sites and restore them to "pre-disposal conditions," EPA's massive dredging effort will ultimately be recontaminated by the same toxic sources that originally polluted this massively impaired waterway.
That would be an unthinkable and unacceptable exercise in futility. It must be avoided in order to safeguard public health in the Gowanus Canal community.
New York's Legacy of Toxic Sites
New York is threatened by a vast legacy of thousands of toxic chemical dumps, former industrial sites and abandoned municipal landfills as well as hundreds of thousands of leaking petroleum tanks and hazardous substance spills. According to government regulatory data, the vast majority of these environmental and public health hazards have never been comprehensively investigated or remediated in strict compliance with the maximum level of State or Federal cleanup requirements.
Your administration routinely fails to enforce State Environmental Remediation Program requirements codified in 6 NYCRR (New York Codes, Rules and Regulations) PART 375-2.8 (a):
"The goal of the remedial program for a specific site is to restore that site to pre-disposal conditions (emphasis added), to the extent feasible."
Your administration similarly fails to enforce Section 171 of the New York Navigation Law regarding uncontrolled releases of petroleum and hazardous substances:
"It is the purpose of this article to ensure a clean environment and healthy economy for the state by preventing the unregulated discharge of petroleum which may result in damage to lands, waters or natural resources of the state by authorizing the department of environmental conservation to respond quickly to such discharges and effect prompt cleanup and removal of such discharges (emphasis added), giving first priority to minimizing environmental damage, and by providing for liability for damage sustained within the state as a result of such discharges."
Given New York's long-standing and on-going failure to remediate toxic problems around the Gowanus Canal in strict compliance with the highest levels of cleanup mandated by our state's public health and environmental protection laws, tens of thousands of residents of that community face unacceptable public health risks, including low-income and minority residents that are New York's most vulnerable citizens.
The Gowanus Canal community is plagued by soil gas vapor intrusion hazards that are documented at many of the major toxic sites documented herein. Yet no comprehensive survey has been undertaken to identify or safeguard homes, schools, businesses and other structures that are contaminated by this known hazard.
Unremediated toxic pollution also could be spread by increased flooding associated with climate change since enormous quantities of Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (LNAPL), such as petroleum contamination, underlie many of the toxic sites surrounding the Gowanus Canal. For example, Superstorm Sandy polluted vast areas of New York City when extensive flooding distributed toxic pollution that was never cleaned up.
As Governor of New York, you are responsible for resolving environmental and public health problems on a comprehensive basis without any further delay. It is imperative that our state no longer tolerates inadequate remediation of toxic contamination hazards by enforcing the strict enforcement policy we propose. If you implement that policy, you would set a standard for effective regulatory action that could be replicated all over New York and from coast-to-coast. With all due respect, if you fail to adopt that policy, you would be directly responsible for imperiling New York's public health and environment and must be held accountable.
I trust that you will find this proposal self-explanatory and await your timely response.
Thank you for your consideration, leadership and public service in these extraordinarily troubling times for New York.
cc: Honorable Eric Adams
Honorable Charles Schumer
Honorable Nydia Velazquez
Honorable Antonio Reynoso
Honorable Steven Englebright
Honorable Jo Anne Simon
Honorable Jabari Brisport
Honorable Shahana Hanif
Honorable Lisa Garcia
Honorable Mary T. Bassett
Honorable Basil Seggos