It seems that the Gowanus Canal, long the subject of derision due to it’s presumed toxic contents, is actually pretty toxic and you should try to stay the hell away from it if at all possible.
New Yorkers and Brooklynites in particular have been advised that while officials won’t say “no boating,” they will say “seriously, you do not want to fall into this shit,” and even go so far as to say that maybe you shouldn’t take kids boating on the Gowanus unless absolutely necessary.
EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, who told people “no boating,” underscores that point:
“Be very careful not to fall in,” said Enck, who also urged people not to eat fish or crabs from the canal. “Do everything possible to avoid contact with the water.”
In addition to PCBs, mercury, lead and copper, the Gowanus is littered with debris and even “sunken vessels.” Despite an effort to rehab the canal, officials are unsure it will ever be suitable for fishing or swimming.