Polluted Gowanus Canal doesn't scare away neighborhood developme - FOX 35 News Orlando

Polluted Gowanus Canal doesn't scare away neighborhood development

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Gowanus Canal (EPA photo) Gowanus Canal (EPA photo)
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Every day, those who live and work in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn drive and bike and walk across their canal, growing a little more accustomed to but no less disgusted by its scent and appearance.

Here is some of what locals told us about the Gowanus Canal:

"Nasty."

"A lot of condoms."

"Swollen dead rats in it."

"It's deathly stillness."

"Some days it smells worse than others."

"Four weeks ago, we had a dead guy pulled out of here,"

"Those oil patches there."

"It's a blight on the neighborhood."

Once the busiest canal in the United States, the Gowanus now bears the distinction as perhaps the most polluted body of water in the nation. No one knows exactly how polluted because few have summoned enough courage to dive into its murky depths to investigate.

Not even the Environmental Protection Agency, which recently vowed $500 million over decades to decontaminate this arsenic-riddled slop, knows exactly what lurks beneath this brown-green surface. For that matter, neither does sunlight.

We know carcinogens, radioactive materials, and a terrifying amount of fecal matter have settled in this watery trough of death.

"It killed the whale. It killed the dolphin," a local resident said. "It's not what you want to raise your kids by."

We don't know whatever a century worth of factories dumped into it and left to mix and stagnate into the poisonous soup that oozes beneath these bridges today.

And yet a block up from this radioactive, festering waterway full of sewage we find a new, sparkling, expensive, and very busy grocery store. Residents will tell you that hip bars, artists in residence, and cool lofts have begun to appear throughout the neighborhood.

"Where the artists go, the bankers, the publishing people, everyone else follows," one man said. "That's real estate. New York style."

It seems that no matter how long it takes the EPA to lift its recommendation people avoid the canal's water and the spaces above and adjacent to it -- if it ever does -- New Yorkers will continue to settle by the Gowanus.

"It's not telling what you're going to get from that water," one resident said.

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