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There is still a lot of active industry on the Gowanus Canal. Photo by Mai Armstrong


Yesterday, I went to watch clean water advocate Chris Swain’s earth day swim in the heavily polluted Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. Word was he would swim the entire toxic length.


All the major news outlets were present. Photo by Mai Armstrong


Heading for the 3rd Street Bridge, I set myself up in the Whole Foods Market parking lot pocket-park – coffee and restrooms close by! – along with dozens of news media outlets, buzzing helicopters overhead, and a few bewildered local shoppers with their dogs.

Warning signs show the location of Combined Sewer Outfalls in NYC where untreated sewage releases into area waterways when it rains. NYC DEP photo


It had rained the previous day, and I wondered how much raw sewage had been freshly discharged into the waterway.


What’s in that soup? Photo by Mai Armstrong


We waited for a looong time. The reporters started to thin out, and eventually the helicopters left. My companion started to fidget so we abandoned the effort, and decided lunch on the outdoor roof deck at Whole Foods was in order.


There he is! The tiny yellow blob! Photo by Mai Armstrong


At some point, the swimmer came into view, and I snapped a couple of shots of him splashing in the water before he climbed ashore. I was kind of glad not to be too close, I didn’t want any of that water on me!


Chris Swain swims the Gowanus Canal. Photo by Mai Armstrong


I gathered from my fellow gawkers, that the swim had been cut short by the impending weather, and sure enough the skies darkened and the wind picked up as I wound my way home.

Did he accomplish his goal to raise awareness? The media were there… but I got the impression they were there to see a guy swim in poop. What do you think?¬† Noble or reckless? Irresponsible or dedicated? Brave or stupid? Let me know in the comments.


by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee


Isla Bella launch. GD NASSCO photo via Marine Log


General Dynamics (GD) NASSCO has launched the world’s first LNG-powered containership last weekend. After her christening ceremony at the company’s shipyard, Isla Bella launched into San Diego bay, beneath a shower of fireworks.

a Designed to burn either fuel oil or gas derived from LNG, the vessel will significantly decrease emissions while increasing fuel efficiency, when compared with conventionally powered ships.

Isla Bella, the world’s first LNG-powered container ship. GD NASSCO photo via


Isla Bella will reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by 98%, particulate matter by 99%, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide by 71%.

The vessel will be equipped with a dual-fuel, slow-speed 8L70ME-C8.2-GI engine and also a ballast water treatment system, helping the vessel to be more environmentally friendly.

Read more from here…

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

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