Wednesday, January 03, 2007

About That Funny Smell in the Gowanus Apartment...

Oil on Gowanus

We love Gowanus. While we cast a very wide net around Brooklyn, we took our name from our favorite canal, so it pains us to have to return time and again to the toxicity of Gowanus. For instance, the foul water and oil slicks in the Big G, the toxic plume near Third Street and the state of the Gowanus Whole Food site. One almost feels traitorous pointing out things like that.

In any case, we got an email from a reader who was apartment hunting in the hood, and figured it was worth reproducing here:
I just looked at an apartment today for rent on 3rd avenue by union street. I like it over there...but it smells like gasoline. So I thought maybe it was just from the gas station on 4th ave or maybe someone was cementing something nearby...but then I looked online and...despite how much I would love to live there, it seems like a health hazard. It's horrifying that such toxic ground will be home to Whole Foods! Do you think it's safe to live there or... I mean does it always smell like fresh gas/cement? What do you think about 3rd ave as a place to live...air-wise?
We don't know about the cement smell, but we're thinking that the gasoline scent could be coming from the Bayside Fuel Depot at Bond and Union or, even, from one of the industrial buildings or trucks parked nearby. In a more big picture way, Gowanus may be the butt of jokes, but there are sites throughout Brooklyn, particularly in Williamsburg and Greenpoint that are equally troubling in terms of what may be beneath the surface. It is going to be more and more of an issue as well, given that the city's long-term plan is to handle some of its growth by cleaning up and using brownfield sites for housing.

Do we have faith that the public agencies charged with overseeing cleanups will do so in a thorough and aggressive way? Uh, not exactly.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greenpoint is much worse off with the oil plume it has. The news hardly reports it but that thing was large and still there.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live on Union btwn 3rd and 4th and I have not noticed any persistent gasoline smell. My guess is that it was either coming from one of the autobody shops on the block or the fuel oil company on 3rd and Union (you know, the large parking lot next to the Holiday Inn filled with fueling trucks).

And how does fresh cement smell like gas? Am I missing something here?

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In general outdoor odors are not a big concern. The outdoor air dilutes contaminants very very quickly and your nose can detect concentrations below harmful levels. What to worry about is if contaminants are getting into your apartment, either from a nearby source or from the ground underneath the bldg and hanging out there due to poor ventilation. That's the real hazard b/c concentrations can rise in poorly ventilated confined spaces. All in all though, it's great the Whole foods is cleaning up that site and making the area a better place. With them there, others will follow and that will be a good thing so long as the community is active in keeping developers honest about how clean the sites get before sensitive uses are put on them.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cleanup plan is not to remove all the toxins on the Whole Foods site but to cap them in place.

Because it has a manufacturing zoning the state only requires cleanup to that use standard. The site will carry with it a deed restriction for commercial and manufacturing use.

Is this what the previous poster refers to as good for the area?

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any information on cancer and asthma rates in the area? I think it's irresponsible to say things like "outdoor odors are not a big concern." Good luck keeping developers honest!

4:35 PM  

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