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Enforcement

Case Summary: Residential Developers Agree to Liability Relief Settlements Worth $20 Million in Cleanup Work along the Gowanus Canal

On September 9, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it entered into settlement agreements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, commonly referred to as Superfund) with two subsidiaries of The Lightstone Group to conduct sampling, cleanup work, and other measures along the Gowanus Canal.

The settlement agreements, known as Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser (BFPP) Performing Removal Work Agreements, provide liability relief for prospective purchasers under CERCLA in exchange for cleanup work which may otherwise fall upon EPA to perform

The subsidiaries are in the process of developing 700 residential units adjacent to the canal. The cleanup work will be conducted on three parcels, totaling 3.4 acres, which is also subject to a cleanup as part of a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Brownfield redevelopment program. The estimated value of the work under the settlements is approximately $20 million.

On this page:

“These settlements illustrate that the Superfund program can work in parallel with redevelopment. The removal of contaminated soil and the other actions proposed under this agreement will reduce pollution along the Gowanus Canal and serve as a model for addressing the impacts of future potential development along the Canal.” Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator

Information about the companies

Lightstone Group is a privately held real estate company headquartered in New York, N.Y. that develops, manages, and invests in all sectors of the real estate market, including residential, hospitality, commercial and retail across the United States.

Information about the Gowanus Canal

The Gowanus Canal is bounded by several communities including Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, N.Y. and empties into New York Harbor. Completed in 1869, the Gowanus Canal was once a major transportation route for the then separate cities of Brooklyn and New York City. Manufactured gas plants, mills, tanneries, and chemical plants are among the many facilities that operated along the canal. As a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation's most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include polychlorinated biphenyls, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. The contamination poses a threat to the nearby residents who use the canal for fishing and recreation.

Separately this year, EPA issued two orders for remedial design work worth more than $35 million with several potentially responsible parties (PRPs), including the City of New York, associated with cleanup of the Gowanus Canal. More information is available from the Gowanus Canal remedial design orders case summary Web page.

Additional information is available from the Agency’s Gowanus Canal website.

Information about the BFPP Performing Removal Work Agreement

Under the BFPP Performing Removal Work Agreements, and with EPA oversight, among other actions the Lightstone Group subsidiaries will:

  • conduct additional sampling to help determine additional source areas of contamination;
  • remove an estimated 17,500 cubic yards of contaminated soil to facilities licensed to receive the waste;
  • construct a bulkhead to prevent residual contamination from spreading and permit dredging; and
  • ensure that the project will not be a future contamination source to the Canal through EPA approval of sewage and stormwater plans.

Such agreements free up the use of Superfund monies for other projects while allowing the developer of a site to recover its costs through redevelopment. These types of agreements are an important tool for EPA in addressing contaminated sites while promoting redevelopment and reuse of those sites.

Contact Information

For information contact

Phil Page
Senior Attorney-Advisor
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania, Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20460
202-564-4211
page.phil@epa.gov

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