• Program 2013-14

Cleaning the Canal: Who Pays for Gowanus?


May 08, 2014


Baruch College, Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrit Steve L Newman Real Estate Institute


14-220 of Baruch College's Newman Vertical Campus, 55 Lexington Ave. (enter on 24th or 25th Street). A map and directions can be found online. When you arrive on campus, please check in at the public safety desk. Then take the elevator to the 14th floor where you will immediately see the registration desk.

The Gowanus Canal, a nearly two mile body of water in Brooklyn, is one of the most polluted sites in New York City. In 2010 the Canal was placed on the EPA's Superfund Priorities List. With this designation, the EPA can compel parties responsible for the pollution to pay for the Canal's cleanup. Holding the appropriate parties responsible, however, is not a simple matter.

The Canal has been the entryway for contaminants almost continuously since the nineteenth century. Determining which entities – factories, shippers, New York City itself – caused harm and determining their proportion of liability is almost impossible decades after the event. Indeed, many of the original polluters are companies that no longer exist. Nonetheless, the EPA is in the process of identifying "potentially responsible parties" and is prepared to bring legal action to force them to pay their share of the cleanup.

The EPA's actions raise a number of compelling legal, ethical and policy issues regarding our approach to the restoration of polluted public areas. On May 8th Baruch College's Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity and Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute, in partnership with the Sustainability Practice Network, will convene a panel to address the question of who should pay for the Gowanus Canal cleanup.


President, Toxics Targeting ;
President, New York League of Conservation Voters;
Principal, Schnapf LLC;
Assistant Regional Counsel, United States Environmental Protection Agency;


Associate Director of the Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity