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Gowanus Canal is partially clean for the first time in 150 years

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After a successful dredging and capping pilot, a portion of the canal has a clean bottom

Eastern Effects Gowanus tour Photo by Max Touhey

After wrapping up a year-long dredging and capping pilot program in the Forth Street Basin, a portion of the Gowanus Canal is the cleanest its been in more than 100 years.

Phase one of the pilot kicked off back in December 2016 and involved removing large debris from the murky canal that were identified through sonar scanning. Phase two, which was the drudging and capping process, involved placing a multi-layer protective cover on the canal’s floor to keep new debris from settling at the bottom.

Though phase two was expected to take just six months to complete, the process ended up running six months past its deadline after heavy machines used to clean the superfund site created cracks in land adjacent from the canal, resulting in a three-month pause in cleanup work, reports Brooklyn Daily.

“It’s the first time that a portion of the canal has a clean bottom in 150 years — let’s give it an applause,” said Environmental Protection Agency project manager Christos Tsiamis while addressing local members of the Gowanus Community Advisory Group at a Tuesday meeting.

The federal superfund site is expected to be clean by 2022, though Tsiamis believes it could happen much sooner. “By spring, we will be able to start the countdown of the cleanup in months, not in years,” stated Tsiamis.