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Multiple Factors Contributed to the Delay in Constructing Combined Sewer Overflow Tanks at the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site in New York City

Report Number

Why We Did This Report

We conducted this audit to determine the status of the construction of the combined sewer overflow tanks at the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, New York City. We initiated this audit in response to an OIG Hotline complaint alleging that New York City has failed to construct the tanks in a timely manner and that EPA Region 2 failed to enforce administrative orders that require the Gowanus Canal Superfund site to have these tanks. 

What We Found

We found that construction of the two combined sewer overflow, or CSO, tanks for the Gowanus Canal Superfund site is approximately six-and-a-half years behind the original schedule in Region 2’s 2013 Record of Decision, or ROD, that detailed the selected remedy for cleaning up the site. In addition, as of this audit, the project cost is estimated to be more than $1 billion—a more than 1,300-percent increase from Region 2’s original estimate. We identified that, among other factors, disagreements between New York City and Region 2 led to substantial delays and significant cost increases. We also found that the Agency could have been more aggressive in enforcing the ROD and related administrative orders. Although it was apparent in 2016 that the city was noncompliant with the Gowanus Canal ROD and a 2014 administrative order, the EPA issued a new administrative order rather than penalizing the city. It was not until the 2021 administrative order that Region 2 cited New York City for noncompliance and required the city to construct the CSO tanks by specific dates.  

Report Type
Report sub-type

New York, NY
United States