Tag Archives: Pollution

Kayaking Through the Gowanus Canal on the Eve of Sandy

By Vladimir Brezina

We head down a dark HudsonOn Saturday, October 27, with Hurricane Sandy just offshore and aiming, it seemed, directly for New York City, we went for what we (correctly) suspected would be our last kayak trip for some time.
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We paddled down the harbor to visit the Gowanus Canal, our favorite Superfund waterway. There one can encounter sights and smells like nowhere else—except perhaps in Newtown Creek, another Superfund site…

Everything was calm. The calm before the storm…

When Sandy hit the next day, the Gowanus Canal overflowed its banks and flooded a wide swath of industrial and residential land around. No doubt, as elsewhere, this caused much destruction. But in addition, of course, the Canal’s water is not just any ordinary water—it is laced with “toxic sludge, heavy metals, oil and—when the sewer system overflows—good old human excrement.” The city issued an advisory that “residents should wash their hands and practice proper hygiene if they come into contact with the canal’s water or sediments.” Sediments that it may take years to clean up…

So the chances are that the Canal and its surroundings will never be quite the same again. These may be some of the last photos of what Gowanus Canal looked like in the good old days before the flood…

ReflectionsIndustrial tableau 2
End of the Gowanus Canal
Intricate composition
In the glowing cavern
... into the sun

Here’s a slideshow of all photos from the trip:

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The individual photos, and a much larger-format slideshow, are here.