Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Ground Beneath Gowanus, Whole Foods Edition

While much of attention recently has been focused on the benzene in and around the future site of the Whole Foods in Gowanus, the site itself has an interesting past. The Department of Environmental Conservation's website notes "subsurface soils and groundwater are contaminated with volatile organic compounds, semi volatile organic compounds, and chlorinated solvents." Among the substances disposed at the site were napthalene and xylene. Meantime, Stephen Witt relates some details about the site's past (it was originally a wetland) and present from a recent DEC fact sheet in the latest Courier-Life papers:
The site was created by filling the wetlands during the mid-1800s and the early 1990s and specific sources of fill material are unknown, according to the fact sheet.

However, according to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the canal is filled with 20 feet of ash in some places and it was a common practice to use demolition debris, ash and furnace slag as riverfront fill.

During the late 1800s through 2004, the site was the location of numerous industrial operations, including coal yards, an ice company, lumberyards, a petroleum oil company, a building materials company, a trucking company, a freight depot, and an automobile junkyard and automobile repair shop.

Contamination related to these former industrial operations included the BTEX compounds benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes.

These are volatile organic hydrocarbons found in most petroleum products such as gasoline, according to the DEC fact sheet.
We scoured the DEC website, but the fact sheet does not appear to be posted online, unless we somehow missed it.

Related Posts:
Gowanus Whole Foods #2: Execs Say Toxics Are Under Control


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