Exclusive: Cleanup date for Gowanus Canal pushed back several years

NEW YORK (WABC) -- In an Eyewitness News Exclusive report there is bad news for people who leave near one of the toxic waterways in New York.

It's taken forever to clean up the polluted Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn and now it's set to take even longer.

"We just want this water body to be a healthy water body again," said John Lipscomp, the riverkeeper.

16-years cruising up and down the 2-mile length of the Gowanus Canal, Riverkeeper Patrol Boat Captain Lipscomb has seen the pollution, smelled the stench and suffered through the detailed cleanup plans of this contaminated industrial waterway.

"This water body which has been so stomped to death for centuries is waiting again for healing to start, that's the tragedy," Lipscomp said.

The city and the EPA disagreed on the location of a necessary retention tank.

After a lengthy negotiation, the two sides reached an agreement last month.

But the pricey deal pushes back the clean-up start date by several years. That's not the news neighborhood people wanted to hear at Monday night's EPA public information meeting.

"You came here and you promised us a solution to this problem. And I think this agreement will allow the city to become a problem to the solution," a resident said.

"We all have to stop and say, is this worth it? Are we really getting much for this incredible extra cost that's going in here and I'm not so sure that we are," another resident said.

"Every single day for the last several decades the community here has been burdened by this canal. It is the city's open space, the people's open space. And the quicker we clean up, the quicker we can restore it to it being useful for the community," said Sean Dixon, a riverkeeper.

Each time the cleanup of the Gowanus gets pushed back, the hopes and prayers that it will ever get done take another hit.

And the worry grows, not so much about when it will happen, but if it will happen at all.
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