GOWANUS — Despite fears that the cleanup of the Gowanus Canal could grind to a halt this month as the Trump administration moves to slash budgets, local officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now say the cleanup is back on track.
"We are obligating some funds that will enable us to work for the next few months," EPA's Christos Tsiamis, project manager of the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup, told DNAinfo New York on Monday.
The news comes just days after Tsiamis publicly announced that the long-awaited cleanup could be derailed due to a lack of funding. Pleas to EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. for more cash had been met with "silence," Tsiamis told members of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group last week.
But after press coverage of the dire warning, EPA announced the cleanup would continue "using funding that EPA already has," said Mary Mears, a spokeswoman with EPA Region 2, which oversees the Gowanus Canal cleanup.
Tsiamis said his team will continue to negotiate financial settlements with the companies responsible for polluting the canal, which will pay for the bulk of the cleanup costs.
The contaminated canal was declared a Superfund site in 2010 and is expected to be cleaned up by 2022. The canal's once-blighted banks are home to a growing number of luxury apartments.
Activists plan to rally Tuesday in front of U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer's Manhattan office to protest President Donald Trump's proposed 31 percent cut to the EPA's federal budget. The protest is scheduled for noon at 780 Third Ave.
"New York communities would be hard-hit by these cuts," rally organizers with Food & Water Watch said in announcing the protest. "The cleanups of the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek in Brooklyn could be disrupted. Programs to combat global warming would be eliminated, risking further climate catastrophes like Superstorm Sandy."