EPA, DEC explain study to community

Representatives from the EPA and NYSDEC came to the fairgrounds' Martha Eddy Room Thursday to explain their recent Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) to Camillus residents. It was dubbed a question and answer session and was conducted in the most literal sense of the term -- with questions submitted on paper, anonymously, with no chance for following up.

"Is there a reason that this meeting is being so tightly managed and controlled and not democratic?" said Barbara Silverstone of Camillus an hour into the session. Under the meeting's format, Silverstone was speaking out of turn.

Moderator Joan Kennedy's response did not answer the question.

"Well right now let me go through this and then we can open it up," she said.

The Human Health Risk Assessment, authored by Micheal Sivak of the EPA, determined the transport of chemicals from Onondaga Lake to Wastebed 13 in Camillus to present no unacceptable risks. In the current plan, after being dredged from Onondaga Lake, a solution of 10 percent sediment and 90 percent water would be brought to Wastebed 13 via double walled, high-density polyethylene tubes measuring 16 inches in diameter. The water would be filtered out and treated, and the sediment would be stored in geotextile tubes in the sediment consolation area (SCA). The study concluded that the SCA would be closely monitored.

To start his presentation, the EPA's Michael Sivak, author of the study, said comments posted to syracuse.com and submitted to the EPA about the HHRA indicated misinformation and misunderstandings going around. The purpose of the session was to clear up the confusion.

One source of confusion was the term "acceptable risk."

"I understand that that's kind of a weird way to phrase risk, and why is any risk acceptable?" Sivak said. "The national contingency plan presents some of these rules that our program has to follow and one of those is that it defines what acceptable levels of risk are," he explained.

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