Monday, March 15, 2010

The Gowanus Canal

Although this odd signage has been up on the Ninth Street bridge over the toxic Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, the multi-colored waterway was only made a Superfund site this month. It actually doesn't smell as bad as it looks.But the most exciting part about the canal is this, as summarized in a 2009 article in New York Magazine:
"Cholera, typhoid, typhus, gonorrhea: They’ve all been found in the water. A team of biology professors at New York City College of Technology have also studied a curious white goo oozing along the bottom, which turned out to be a mix of bacteria, protozoans, and various contaminants. The microbes appear to have evolved resistance to the filth, and the scientists have been trying to figure out whether their disease-fighting mechanisms could be adapted for medical use."
The canal was dug in the 1860s, and the pollution came from the oil refineries, tanneries, and other chemical plants that used it and its shores. The Superfund clean-up should take between 10 and 12 years and cost as much as $500 million. The Bloomberg administration opposed the Super Fund designation; it has an alternative plan that it said was faster (but not by much) and cheaper -- and all to attract developers who are eager for clean (or at least saleable) waterfront property.



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