Clean water advocate swims part of America's dirtiest canal

A clean water advocate swam part of a New York City canal deemed one of America’s most-polluted waterways Wednesday in an effort to draw attention to its condition and to push to clean it up.

Christopher Swain, 47, wore a dry suit, cap and goggles during his swim in Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal. Swain wanted to swim the full length of the canal, but was deterred because of an impending thunderstorm.

Swain got out of the water, gargled hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria and told reporters that he wants to work with the city to pick a date to do the full swim.

The Gowanus Canal is considered one of the most-polluted waterways in the country., citing a Popular Science investigation, reported that there are traces of arsenic, carcinogens, radioactive materials, bacteria and sewage in the canal.

"How about now that we have it on the 'Superfund' list, we turn the Gowanus Canal into a jewel," Swain said earlier in the week. "It could be something amazing. Carving through the most expensive real estate in this world."

The canal, bounded by many Brooklyn neighborhoods, empties into New York Harbor. It was once a major transportation route for the formerly separated cities of Brooklyn and New York. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, manufactured gas plants, mills, tanneries and chemical plants are among the facilities that operated along the canal.

Due to years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the canal has been extensively contaminated.

Swain said that the initial clean-up effort could cost a half-billion dollars.

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