Superfund Site: GOWANUS CANAL

Superfund Site Profile

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The Gowanus Canal is a 100-foot wide, 1.8-mile long canal in the New York City (NYC) borough of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. The Canal is bounded by several communities, including Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook. The Canal empties into New York Harbor. The adjacent waterfront is primarily commercial and industrial, currently consisting of concrete plants, warehouses and parking lots.

The Gowanus Canal was built in the mid-1800s and was used as a major industrial transportation route. Manufactured gas plants (MGP), paper mills, tanneries and chemical plants operated along the Canal and discharged wastes into it. In addition, contamination flows into the Canal from overflows from sewer systems that carry sanitary waste from homes and rainwater from storm drains and industrial pollutants. As a result, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation's most seriously contaminated water bodies. More than a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls and heavy metals, including mercury, lead and copper, are found at high levels in the sediment in the Canal.