This Halloween, Take a Haunted Canoe Ride Down the Fetid, Radioactive Newtown Creek

Image via North Brooklyn Boat Club on Facebook
The view from the water during last year's ride.
It can be hard to recapture the terror of Halloweens past, can't it? The simpler time when the holiday was about extorting as much candy as possible out of your neighbors, then rushing home as fast as you could, fully convinced that a multitude of ghosts and demons were about to claw their way out of area graveyards to feast on your brains? Was that just us? Too many rhetorical questions? In any case, making Halloween scary again might be as simple as taking a paddle down the Dutch Kills, part of the incredibly polluted, quite possibly haunted Newtown Creek.

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The Gowanus Canal Is Terrifying, Filled With Shipwrecks and Will Cost Millions to Clean Up

Photo by Anna Merlan
A deceptively beautiful stretch of the Gowanus
Sometime very soon, the Environmental Protection Agency will release its final plan on how to clean up the incredibly polluted Gowanus Canal, a process that's expected to take years and cost $550 million. In the meantime, stop fishing there. No, seriously, that's something that people are still doing. Fishing. In a canal that's bright green and smells overwhelmingly like an army of demonically-possessed feet. After designating Brooklyn's smelliest waterway as a Superfund site back in 2010, the feds began talking about how to actually clean it up. The main issue is that people have been dumping contaminants and various other things in there for 144 years, including, we are not kidding, at least four shipwrecks. And the practice of using the canal like an enormous, watery trash can continues to this very day.

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The Gowanus Canal Cleanup Will Cost Half a Billion Dollars

The Gowanus Canal has been a repository of toxic filth for more than a century.
The Environmental Protection Agency released its plan for cleaning up the Gowanus Canal Superfund site yesterday, and as expected, the process is going to be complicated, time-consuming, and mind-bogglingly expensive.

Since its completion in the 1860s, the Gowanus Canal has been the home of virtually every high-pollution industry imaginable: cement makers, chemical plants, coal yards, gas works, ink factories, machine shops, oil refineries, paint factories, soap makers, and tanneries. All of these industries dumped their various strains of super-toxic filth into the canal, and without an effective way to circulate water in the canal (a flushing mechanism stopped working in the 1960s) it stayed put, settling to the bottom.

What sort of super-toxic filth are we talking about? Per the EPA:

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Gowanus Canal Is Totally Grody, Finds EPA

After a yearlong evaluation of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, the EPA has released their report on the levels of contamination in the waterway. The results, published yesterday, aren't good for the Superfund site. Two suspected carcinogens -- PAHs and PCBs -- were found to be "widespread" in the canal. How do you avoid exposure to these nasty acronyms?

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