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EPA's Gowanus Canal Cleanup Plans Could Doom 'The Americans' Studio

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The agency has selected sites for cleanup staging, but it may shutter a big neighborhood business

Eastern Effects Gowanus tour

The long-anticipated cleanup of the Gowanus Canal is one step closer to getting underway. On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the city announced the finalized locations for two retention tanks that are necessary for the remediation of the über-polluted waterway, according to DNAInfo. The larger of the two tanks, measuring 8 million gallons, will be placed at the head of the canal under Butler and Nevins Streets; the smaller, a 4 million gallon tank, will be located at Second Avenue and Fifth Street.

On the one hand, the fact that this selection process is over is a good thing; it means the cleanup on the Gowanus Canal, which was designated a Superfund site in 2010, can finally begin. In a report issued by the EPA, which collected all of the public comments/responses to the decision, the federal agency says that some kind of visitors’ center may also be erected nearby, which would "provide the public with an opportunity to review the work progress."

But on the other, this means that Eastern Effects, a film and television studio based in Brooklyn, will have to close its facility at 270 Nevins Street. The space is currently home to FX's The Americans, and supporters of the studio say that it adds around $4 million to the local economy, as well as hundreds of jobs.

Eastern Effects Gowanus tour
Eastern Effects’s studio on the left
Max Touhey for Curbed

In a statement, Eastern Effects founder Scott Levy said he was "devastated" by the news, and called on the De Blasio administration to step in. "We've heard a lot of recent talk from Commissioner Menin about the importance of the local film industry," he continued, "And now it's time to see some action. Here's a golden opportunity for her to do the right thing and save one of her own."

In its report on the decision, the EPA noted that using 270 Nevins as a staging area is preferable because it "would eliminate the need to transport materials across active streets to go from the staging area to the CSO retention tank installation area." But the "active" area in question is Nevins Street, which—in that part of Brooklyn, at least—isn’t especially busy.

In any case, the report states that if the city proposes another site for the staging area, "EPA would be supportive of such approaches and would work closely with NYC to realize them." So it’s in the city’s hands now.