Activist attempts Earth Day swim in polluted NYC canal

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Environmental activist Christopher Swain braved the waters of Brooklyn, New York’s Gowanus Canal on Earth Day. But the challenge wasn’t so much the temperature, it was the pollution. Protected by a

Activist attempts Earth Day swim in polluted NYC canal

Environmental activist Christopher Swain braved the waters of Brooklyn, New York’s Gowanus Canal on Earth Day.

But the challenge wasn’t so much the temperature, it was the pollution.

Protected by a special dry suit, ear plugs plus Tetanus and Hepatitis A and B vaccinations, Swain attempted to swim a mile or more than one and a half kilometers through what the Environmental Protection Agency calls one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated bodies of water.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRISTOPHER SWAIN, CLEAN-WATER ACTIVIST, SAYING:

“The water was 50 degrees and it tasted like mud, poop, ground up grass, detergent, gasoline.”

The Gowanus Canal was built in 1869 to feed local factories.

It now suffers from years of dumping of industrial waste and sewage.

Its notoriously foul smelling waters are laden with pesticides, heavy metals and cancer-causing PCBs.

Swain’s effort was cut short by a threatening storm.

Yet the 47-year old environmentalist said it was a perfect metaphor for clean-ups that will take more than just one Earth Day to address.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRISTOPHER SWAIN, CLEAN-WATER ACTIVIST, SAYING:

“What I’m saying is some of these clean-ups are big. They are intimidating and they are scary and they are discouraging. This is gonna be one of those. This is a no joke, big, difficult clean-up.”

Swain is pushing for a speedier clean-up of the Gowanus Canal.

It is on the government’s Superfund National Priorities List, but a toxic clean-up isn’t expected to be completed until 2022.

Tags : canal, Polluted, Swim, earth, Attempts, Activist

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