The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York, is so heavily polluted that entire cars have been pulled from its waters, and now a whole barge will need to be pulled out after it joined all the junk on the bottom of the Gowanus earlier this week.
The Environmental Protection Agency released a statement on January 25 detailing the incident and the steps the agency is taking to address the unfortunate and ironic event:
The statement is not entirely specific about the location or cause of the incident, but Brooklyn Paper reports that the barge sank in “...an area of the harbor called the Bay Ridge flats.” The EPA is investigating the cause, as well as whether or not any of the contaminated sediment aboard the barge was released into the bay.
I’m no dredging expert, but I think it’s safe to assume that at least some of the sunken barge’s cargo found its way back into the water, which really sucks because the dredging efforts have been underway since November of 2020. Weeks worth of work Pardon the expression, but that is quite the sunken cost.
A private contractor, Cashman, has already taken on the task of pulling the barge out and placing it onto yet another barge for removal. The contractor will assess any inadvertent pollution from the event, and take steps to contain it.
That same contractor has been active in the cleanup efforts going back to 2014, when they conducted a pilot test program for dredging the canal. That program produced a lot of insight that would later be used as the Superfund site dredging began.
Just to give you an example of the pollution in the Gowanus, Cashman found “[more] than a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, and heavy metals, including mercury, lead, and copper” in the waters, along with “high levels of liquid tar.”