New York Proposes Cleanup for Onondaga Lake Tributaries

ALBANY, New York, November 28, 2008 (ENS) - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will unveil proposals to clean up contaminated soils in two Onondaga Lake tributaries at a public meeting on December 10. The meeting will be held to present the plans, to elaborate on the reasons for recommending the preferred remedies, and to receive public comments.

Developed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and in consultation with the New York State Health Department, the proposals center on excavating contaminated soil and restoring streambeds, banks and wetlands to achieve a long-term solution for pollution at Ninemile Creek and Geddes Brook.

Located northwest of the city of Syracuse, New York and south of Lake Ontario, Onondaga Lake has been described as one of the most polluted lakes in the United States, primarily due to industrial dumping. The state Health Department has issued warnings against consumption of walleye and bass due mercury and PCB contamination.

The lake in the summer is covered in many areas with algae that creates a vile odor that can be smelled for miles. Onondaga County is spending $500 million on a 15-year project to stop polluting the lake with sewage by 2012. The county is under a federal court order to make the lake safe for swimming and fishing and comply with the federal Clean Water Act.

Contaminants at the two sites covered by the DEC plans include mercury, arsenic, lead, PCBs, hexachlorobenzene, phenol and other contaminants.

At Ninemile Creek - which has been a source of contamination to Onondaga Lake - the preferred remedy proposed by the federal and state agencies includes the dredging/excavation and removal of approximately 64,000 cubic yards of contaminated soils over approximately 15 acres.

Clean materials would then be placed throughout the site, including a habitat layer, backfill and, where needed, an isolation cap.

Contaminated soils removed from the creek and floodplains would be disposed of at Honeywell's LCP Bridge Street sub-site containment system.

Restoration of the streambed and banks, wetlands and habitats would include placement of a habitat layer as well as the plantings of appropriate species of vegetation. It is estimated that this project will take two years to complete and will cost approximately $20.2 million.

The plan for an interim remedial measure at Geddes Brook focuses on disposal of contaminated soil excavated from a section of the brook and in its adjacent floodplain, and includes actions to manage the contaminated soil.

Work proposed at the site includes full bank-to-bank removal of an estimated 4,200 cubic yards of sediments. In addition, floodplain soil would be excavated and removed to a depth of approximately two to four feet.

Approximately one foot of vegetated cover would be placed in certain areas to establish an emergent wetland.

The DEC encourages the public to provide input on the proposed remedies, which are posted on the agency's website at: The public comment period concludes on January 2, 2009.

Comments on both plans can be made in writing, via e-mail or in person at the public meeting scheduled for 7 pm, December 10, 2008, at the Martha Eddy Room at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.

Comments on the Ninemile Creek plan should be sent to: Timothy Larson, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, 12th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-7013 or

Comments on the interim remedial measure at Geddes Brook should be sent to Tracy Smith, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, 12th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-7016 or

{Photo: Geddes Brook flows through this culvert, passing under the Erie Canal. (Photo by Ian Tuckerman)}

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