In a statement, the EPA said the barge was filled on January 22 with nearly 850 tons of toxic material dredged from the canal, commonly referred to as “Black Mayonnaise.” Three days later, the agency discovered the barge “resting upright on mudflats” and partially submerged.
Cashman, a contractor, pumped water from the barge into a separate barge. They then found a small hole, which they identified as the cause of the incident. The EPA noted that the “bulk” of the sediment in the container remained in place.
“While EPA is confident that no adverse impacts to human health resulted from this incident, EPA takes this incident seriously and is reviewing field operations associated with this Superfund cleanup,” the agency said. “The dredging was temporarily halted so that efforts could concentrate on addressing the barge and barge operations.”
For decades, the 1.8-mile Gowanus Canal served as a passageway for industrial companies like oil refineries, chemical and gas plants in Brooklyn, which dumped pollutants into the waterway. In 2010, the EPA declared the canal a Superfund site and began a decade-long process to clean it up.