• Dolphin Dies In Gowanus Canal

    Warning Graphic Image Below

    At some point on Friday, most likely in the morning, a dolphin made its way far up into the heavily polluted Gowanus Canal. By 1:45pm a crowd gather and watched as police hung around trying to figure out what to do. The dolphin, which appeared to have an injury, ending up being stuck for most of the day in one of the shallowest parts of the Canal between Union St. and Degraw St. The animal kicked up large amounts of black sediment as it moved back and forth looking for an escape.

    At times the Canal’s grey brown oily water made it hard to see the animal even though it often surfaced for air. When the animal’s head was seen emerging from the water, it would sometimes do an odd head bobbing motion giving the impression that it was gasping for oxygen.

    As the crowds got bigger and the news trucks began to roll in, a police water unit appeared, suited up, and got ready to jump in the water. But as the hours ticked by no action was taken.


    Officials had decided that the only thing that could really get the trapped dolphin out of the Canal was high tide, which takes place at around 7pm. This decision by officials seemed foolish to locals, who knew that every second the animal remained in the Canal was a sure sign it was going to die. Someone in the crowd was heard saying: “for God sakes, someone help this animal.” But no one did.

    The media, of course, did tons of 2 bit news reporting asking those watching the tragedy unfold to give some emotional response for the cameras. Many weren’t having it, either because they were too upset at the assured fate of the dolphin or because they didn’t want to emote for the news network’s ratings. One reporter asked someone in the crowd: ‘did you already say “no” to being on camera, I can’t remember cause everyone’s saying “no” ‘.

    A majority of  the onlookers felt so sorry for the animal and many began walking away once it was clear no action was to be taken to save the dolphin. As some of the people in the crowd walked away they noted that they had just attended one of the recent public meetings in which the EPA had laid out its Proposal for the Canal’s clean up. Although those in the community are excited about the Proposal many feel the clean up is around 100 years too late. The Proposal was definitely too late for the dolphin who died at around 6pm, an hour before high tide.

    image by Eymund Diegel

    image by Eymund Diegel

    It is not known what killed the animal at this time, but a report made by the EPA points out that the Gowanus Canal is filled with pollutants that are harmful to humans. At this time there are no obvious signs near the Canal indicating that the Canal contains dangerous toxins. Multiple condos are set to be built along the Superfunded Gowanus Canal very near where the dolphin died Friday.

    The following video was found on vimeo. It is very hard to watch, but captures the struggles of the dolphin up close in the Canal. *graphic*

    Dolphin of Gowanus from Anatoli Ulyanov on Vimeo.

  • EPA Proposal Meeting Tonight!


    Info from EPA about the 1/23 and 1/24 public meetings: Both meetings will follow the same format.  Opening remarks by EPA followed by the presentation and ending with questions and answers.  There will be a stenographer present at both meetings to record all of the proceedings.  Interested parties may state their position on the remedy on the record at either of the meetings or may choose to submit written comments.  The deadline for submitting comments is March 28.

    Jan. 23, 6:30 pm (please note time change): EPA Public meeting on the Proposed Remedial Action Plan, PS 58, 330 Smith Street,Brooklyn.  Spanish translation provided.

    Jan. 24, 7 pm: EPA Public meeting on the Proposed Remedial Action Plan, Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110 West 9th Street, Brooklyn.  Spanish translation provided.

  • Ted Talks – Street Creeks

    New York architect, Ate Atema, gives a TED talk about the new and fantastic idea of Street Creeks. (These are the rain gardens we’ve mentioned before.) Street Creeks are a new type of sidewalk gutter that collects dirty water from the street, so that it doesn’t run straight into local waterways.

    After it rains the water from the street drains into a metal grate covered trough. This trough then with the use of gravity take the dirty street water into the normal catch basis through an inlet. In the catch basin the larger items in the dirty street water are removed. Items like plastic bags and that cup of coffee some jerk threw on the street. The dirty street water, now without larger items, proceeds into a cistern, a waterproof receptacle (another basin tough type thing). The dirty water through the cistern is sent to a bioswale. The bioswale, which are a bunch of special plants, naturally remove the metals, silt, and other pollution from the water. And blame the dirty street is cleaner and not running into local waterways.

    Ate Atema proposes in the TED talk that street creeks should be tested right here in Gowanus, but it seems that testing has already begun. If you walk by the Can factory on 3rd Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues you’ll see some of the grates running along the northern side of the street. We assume these are Street Creeks.

  • Sign at Whole Foods site says “CONTAMINATION SITE”

    Over the past few months the site for Whole Foods new store in Gowanus, Brooklyn, at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street, has been a buzz with activity. Various construction vehicles have been zipping along next to the Canal; workers has been digging and laying concrete. The footprint for the store is well on its way to being complete. And up until November some residents nearby and in surrounding neighborhoods have been rejoicing with the idea that the Texas born chain is finally building its controversial store on the banks of the Gowanus, Canal.

    But, then Hurricane Sandy happened and the Whole Foods site, like much of the land along the Gowanus Canal, flooded. Flooded badly! Every inch of Whole Foods property in Brooklyn was submerged by Hurricanes Sandy’s surge. That gave Whole Foods advocates pause. But, then rumors started that the water was just ‘sea water’ and, as one smiling local residents stated after the storm, “there’s nothing wrong with a little salt water!” This rumor was validated for Whole Foods advocates by the EPA who tested a whopping four samples in two buildings (that’s only two!), near the Gowanus Canal right after the storm. The EPA found that bacteria was high, most likely from the massive amount of untreated sewage that is frequently dumped in the Canal, but that the toxic chemicals like metals and petroleum were very low. So, for advocates, ‘no harm, no foul.’ But the water that flooded the Whole Foods site may not have been sea water, since the water in the Gowanus Canal, which is 20 feet away, is a Superfunded site; And yesterday, twitter user @MartinBisi posted an image of a sign at the Whole Food sign, which read: “WARNING NO TRESPASSING ACTIVE CONTAMINATION SITE”…

    Um… say what now? You mean the location for a place that is going to sell food to the masses has a sign that reads ”WARNING NO TRESPASSING ACTIVE CONTAMINATION SITE”???!!!

    The sign appears to be next to a newly placed drain or vent that could possibly lead to the Gowanus Canal. Although why bother putting a drain or vent at all that leads to the Canal, since the waterway is just right there. Plus, if you look carefully at the image there appears to be several other signs with the same message all along the orange netting that separates the Whole Foods site from the Canal.

    Why are these signs even here? Why are there not signs like these all over the Gowanus near the Canal? The Canal’s a ‘contaminated site’, isn’t it? Why are these signs just at the Whole Foods site? Only time will tell.

    Time may even reveal that these signs are somehow a fake, misplaced, or even related to some construction contaminated. But simple logic will tell you that a plot of marshland next to a Superfunded contaminated Canal (set to take 25 years to clean), which has been flooded by that Canal’s very ‘toxic’ water, is most likely ‘contaminated’ and thus dangerous.

  • Woman Rescued From Gowanus Canal

    According to Gothamist & Park Slope Patch a woman was pulled from the water of the Gowanus Canal at around 6:00pm Tuesday evening. A few Twitter users reported that the woman was conscious before being transported to New York Methodist Hospital. Her condition is unknown as of 7:00am Wednesday morning.

    Many people are horrified at the thought of someone falling/jumping into the polluted waters of the Gowanus Canal. The Superfunded site has the pungent odor of raw sewage mixed with gasoline. Human waste, used condoms, and other very unpleasant items are commonly seen floating down the Canal. The idea that someone was submerged underneath the waters of “lavender lake” is disgusting. Despite the dangers of the toxic waterway there are no apparent signs indicating that the water is unsafe.

    This is definitely not the first time someone has needed help escaping the waters of South Brooklyn’s famous Canal. The archives of the Brooklyn Eagle available through the Brooklyn Public Library show rescues happening on the Gowanus Canal going back even before its completion.


Gowanus, Brooklyn

The crack between two hipster neighborhoods, home to the now superfunded Canal, the flash point for the new 'Buy Local' and textile revolutions, & filled with brilliant bohemians. . . this is Gowanus & it’ll awesome your face off.

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