State Plan: $449M Lake
DEC proposal for Onondaga Lake is
nearly twice as much as Honeywell's approach.
Weiner, Staff Writer
wants Onondaga Lake's biggest industrial polluter to spend about $449
million over seven years to clean toxic waste from the lake bottom,
state environmental officials plan to announce Monday.
Graphic: Onondaga Lake's Extreme
International will be asked to pay for the second most expensive
environmental cleanup in state history to address more than 82 tons of
mercury and other chemicals dumped into the lake over the course of a
century by its predecessor, Allied Chemical.
cleanup plan will cost almost twice what Honeywell International
proposed this summer when it submitted its own cleanup plan. Honeywell
wanted to dredge and cap portions of the lake in a three-year project
that would have cost $237 million.
commissioner of the state Department of Environmental
Conservation, said the state's plan marks one of the most significant
milestones in the 15-year state effort to force a cleanup of Allied's
it's another historic event in our journey to clean up Onondaga Lake,"
Crotty said in an interview Friday. "We really believe, and the governor
believes very strongly, that Onondaga Lake needs to be restored to its
full potential. I feel that for too long Central New York has lived with
this lost resource."
industrial cleanup is combined with Onondaga County's ongoing $425
million, 15-year project to stop polluting the lake with sewage, almost
$1 billion will be spent cleaning Onondaga Lake, one of the most
polluted in the nation. The lake is among three on the federal Superfund
list of toxic waste sites.
proposal would make the Honeywell cleanup the second most expensive in
state history, surpassed only by General Electric dredging operations to
remove PCBs and other chemicals from the Hudson River. That cleanup is
expected to cost at least $460 million.
Onondaga Lake cleanup plan was greeted with mixed reaction Friday. Some
political leaders praised the state's plan, but the Onondaga Nation said
the effort still does not go far enough in restoring the lake,
historically part of its most sacred land.
spokeswoman for Honeywell International had a brief comment on the
committed to continuing to work with the state to finalize an approach
and implement a remedy once the proposed plan is released," said
Victoria Streitfeld, a spokeswoman at Honeywell headquarters in
company's proposal submitted in the feasibility study takes into
consideration years of scientific and technical analysis," Streitfeld
said. "We will continue to refine the plan during the DEC's public
declined to elaborate.
difference between the DEC and Honeywell plans is the amount of dredging
and capping of the lake that will be required.
wants Honeywell to dredge up to 2.65 million cubic yards of
mercury-contaminated sediment at depths ranging to 30 feet, Crotty said.
Honeywell had proposed dredging 508,000 cubic yards from the lake
plan also recommends building a cap over 425 acres of lake bottom, as
well as a thin cap over about 154 acres in the deepest parts of the
lake. Honeywell had proposed capping 347 acres with clean sand and other
plan would take three years for design work and four years for
construction, as compared to three years for the Honeywell plan.
state's plan, the most contaminated sediments would be sent to a toxic
waste landfill outside of Central New York. Sediments not considered
hazardous would be buried in a portion of the old Allied waste beds on
the lake's western shore.
proposed remedy is a significant step toward cleaning up Onondaga Lake,"
Crotty said. "The public has been very patient, and I think today is a
significant step toward the restoration of the lake."
Walsh, who has secured at least $130 million in federal aid toward
Onondaga County's effort to stop its sewage pollution of the lake, said
the state's cleanup proposal for the industrial pollution appears to be
a significant effort toward restoring the lake.
sounds to me like everyone has stretched themselves to make an effort to
make this the time and the place and the plan to clean up Onondaga
Lake," said Walsh, R-Onondaga. "I'm very favorably impressed with this
agreement. This is light-years from where we were 15 years ago."
sued Allied Chemical in 1989, saying it had polluted the lake and its
shoreline through the operations of its chemical plant complex in
Solvay, on the lake's western shore. The Allied plant closed in 1986.
insisted that any cleanup plan involving the state and Honeywell must
pass the scrutiny of government officials and independent scientists,
who have been critical of Honeywell's cleanup proposals in the past.
the burden Onondaga County taxpayers could have faced would be eased by
Honeywell's financial investment in the cleanup when it is combined with
the county's $425 million effort to stop sewage overflows into the lake.
talking over $1 billion that's being spent on the lake," Walsh said.
"That's roughly $20,000 per person it would have cost if we had to do
this on our own. Now Onondaga County residents will have put up maybe
one-tenth of the cost of the Onondaga Lake cleanup."
not convinced the plan will result in a clean lake.
Heath, lawyer for the Onondaga Nation, said the state's $449 million
cleanup plan "is very incomplete, and is entirely inadequate."
the entire bottom of the lake is polluted, and the proposed cleanup
doesn't address that.
cleans up perhaps 19 percent of the problem, and it's not acceptable to
us," Heath said. "It would leave more than half of the toxics in the
dirt and then the plan proposes to cap them."
capping isn't acceptable because wave activity on Onondaga Lake stirs up
the lake bottom, and the sediment also is constantly agitated because
groundwater continues to feed into the lake. He added that capping a
portion of the lake's bottom with toxic chemicals still in the sediment
just covers up the problem.
County Executive Nicholas Pirro said he's not surprised to hear the DEC
recommended a more costly plan than the one proposed by Honeywell.
state sued Allied in 1989, Pirro said he remembers suggesting the lake
cleanup would cost $300 million to $400 million, and in today's dollars
that's pretty close to what's being recommended, he said.
Honeywell has agreed to the plan, then it's a step forward," Pirro said,
noting he understood Honeywell might fight the DEC's recommendation in
court if it was too much over the company's recommended $237 million
he hasn't had a chance to review details of the plan, but said his main
goal is that it not leave the county liable if anything goes wrong down
the road. "If there's a problem with the plan, we just want to be sure
Honeywell still remains responsible, and it doesn't fall back on someone
else," he said.
has set aside money to hire professionals to analyze the plan, and Pirro
said they'll look at it closely and submit detailed comments during the
public comment period.
will accept public comments on the plan until March 1, much longer than
its usual 30-day period. "We want to have a very robust public comment
period," Crotty said.
Elizabeth Doran contributed to this report.
© 2004 The Post-Standard.