Contamination in Gowanus Could Pose Cancer Threat: EPA

Agency's investigation found the canal is contaminated by various metals and toxic chemicals suspected of being carcinogens

Thursday, Feb 3, 2011  |  Updated 8:30 AM EDT
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Contamination in Gowanus Could Pose Cancer Threat: EPA

Abandoned squatter's shack on the banks of the Gowanus Canal, by Nathan Kensinger.

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Widespread contamination in Brooklyn's Gowanus canal could pose a threat to people and the environment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The federal agency announced Wednesday it had completed a thorough assessment of the Gowanus, which runs 1.5 miles through a narrow industrial zone near some of Brooklyn's wealthiest neighborhoods.

Its investigation found the canal is contaminated by various metals and toxic chemicals suspected of being carcinogens.

The EPA also warns people who consume fish and crabs caught in the canal are at risk of exposure.

Last year it named the canal a Superfund site, meaning the government can force polluters to pay for its restoration. The cleanup could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg worried the Superfund label would scare away developers.

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