The damage from the September 16th tornado that ravaged parts of Brooklyn and Queens is still being analyzed. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the tornado dumped more than a half-inch of water on the city in under fifteen minutes.
The EPA has pointed out that the city’s inadequate sewage system near the Gowanus Canal can lead to a massive run-off of raw sewage into the Gowanus Canal during abnormal periods of precipitation.
Brooklyn resident, Kevin Howard, was able to capture the raw sewage run-off on video after the storm and his video has caught the attention of several officials. In the video, the usual fluorescent green color of the Gowanus is washed over in less than 90 seconds by a wave of brown filth, spent condoms, and bags of trash.
“It smelled the same as a septic tank,” said Howard to the Brooklyn Paper. “I was dry-heaving and other people were too,” he added.
The sewage problems of the Gowanus could become an even larger problem. The EPA listed the site as Superfund site this past March.
“The goal of the Superfund is to ensure that polluters pay for clean-up, not the taxpayer,” Regional Director of the EPA, Judith Enck told the Brooklyn Paper this March.
However, the City of New York and the U.S. Navy are listed by the agency as polluters of the canal. Both are funded by taxpayers, and both have to help pay for the cleanup (though with money from a different generation of taxpayers). Additionally, experts have warned that the increased analysis by the EPA could lead to a decrease in property values for anyone living within 3,000 feet of the sludge.
The EPA is concerned that the site may be a health threat to nearby residents. However the EPA is looking to clean up the site quickly.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan spoke about the need to clean up the Gowanus Canal the same year he criticized President Ronald Reagan for hyping the Cold War and funding of the Contras in Nicaragua. But that was 1984. When it comes to the Gowanus Canal, only the raw sewage comes quickly.
Kevin Howard, 9/16/2010: Storm floods Gowanus Canal with Raw Sewage, YouTube
Stephen Brown, Must-see TV! Gowanus Canal turns into the River Styx before your eyes, The Brooklyn Paper
Gersh Kuntzman, EPA says yes to Superfund, the Brooklyn Paper
Environmental Protection Agency