Jun 15, 2012 Stephanie Bouvia Uncategorized
Officials from the Department of Environmental Conservation, Honeywell, the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fielded public questions and comments at a public information session regarding the Onondaga Lake dredging and capping project.
The information session, held June 14 at the New York State fairgrounds, drew a crowd of about 40 people. Ken Lynch, director of NYS DEC Region 7, led a presentation regarding the cleanup project.
“We planned this meeting quite some time ago, as we were gearing up to start the dredging project. We thought we would give the public one last opportunity to hear about the plan, and most importantly, see upfront what you’re going to see on the lake as the project develops,” Lynch said.
Officials will soon begin to hydraulically remove contaminants from 185 acres of the lake. They will also cap an additional 417 acres of the lake using a thin layer of clean sediment.
The $451 million project drew criticism when first announced because sediments and contaminants that are sucked from the lake will be stored in underground tubes on Honeywell property in Camillus. Residents were concerned about the safety of storing the contaminants underground, as well as whether or not those contaminants could affect the area’s air quality.
One woman asked about the availability of Nine Mile Creek for recreational purposes.
“Recreational use is going to be somewhat prohibited while they’re actually starting to work now,” Lynch said, “but one of the things we did when we signed the agreement with Honeywell… was require Honeywell to provide additional public access to Nine Mile Creek.”
Lynch said people will not be able to kayak down Nine Mile Creek during the construction process, due to safety issues. He said officials will publicize when and where people cannot use the creek for such recreational purposes.
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry professor Lee Newman questioned officials about the material of the geotextile tubes, and said the material is known for deteriorating if it comes into contact with direct sunlight. She questioned its safety and reliability.
DEC officials assured attendees that the project was safe, and that the materials being used in the dredging and capping process are also safe. None of the lake contaminants will ever come into contact with the air, officials said.
Although Newman, 54, of Camillus, raised a number of questions to DEC officials, she said she does appreciate how hard they have been working on the cleanup project. She also said it is important for residents to know what’s going on with the project, especially those who live close to the lake.
“As a community member, I can’t say that I’m overly thrilled with having a landfill full of this crap in my community, but you don’t necessarily want it in the lake either,” Newman said. “There’s not a good solution no matter what you do with it.”