Budget cuts could impact city Superfund cleanups
by Patrick Kearns
Mar 28, 2017 | 2270 views | 0 0 comments | 254 254 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The cleanup of three Superfund sites in New York City may be greatly impacted by President Donald Trump's proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Under Trump’s proposed budget, funding for the agency would decrease 31 percent. The $5.7 billion budget would be the lowest it's been in 40 years when adjusted for inflation.

For New Yorkers, one of the most troubling aspects is a 43 percent reduction in Superfund projects.

The Gowanus Canal, Newtown Creek and the former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company site in Ridgewood are currently three sites undergoing federal remediation.

Back in October 2016, the Department of Environmental Conservation classified the Wolff-Alport site at Irving and Cooper avenues a "threat to public health.”

The Newtown Creek remedial investigation began almost six years ago and was completed and sent to the EPA for review on November 15, 2016. The next step is beginning actual work.

Work had already begun in the Gowanus Canal, starting with $500 million cleanup that includes dredging the muddy basin.

The cleanup at both Newtown Creek and the Gowanus Canal is being led by the EPA, however much of the funding comes from the polluters themselves, so it’s not clear how exactly that cuts would impact the projects.

“We have the opportunity to move from a tarnished legacy of two centuries of industrial pollution,” said Councilman Brad Lander. “These proposed cuts might threaten our opportunity to do this. Beyond that, these cuts will affect our overall ability to protect clean water sources, clean air, and livable environments.”

Environmental activists are also joining that chorus of concern.

“The cleanups of Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek, with a century-old history of oil, coal tar, raw sewage, and toxic industrial pollution dumping, would be threatened,” said Paul Gallay of Hudson Riverkeeper.
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