Onondaga Lake Cleanup Plan Finalized

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan to clean up contaminated soil and sediment at the Lower Ley Creek area of the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site located in the City of Syracuse and Town of Salina, Onondaga County, New York.

Discharges from nearby industries and a landfill have contaminated the soil and sediment with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other hazardous substances. PCBs are probable human carcinogens that build up in the fat of fish and mammals, increasing in concentration as they move up the food chain.

The primary risk to people is the accumulation of PCBs in the body from eating contaminated fish.

It’s anticipated that the design and implementation of the estimated $17 to $25 million cleanup will be performed by those responsible for contamination in the creek.

The EPA held a public meeting in Salina on July 29, 2014 after proposing the cleanup plan. The EPA accepted public comments for 60 days. After reviewing and considering all of the comments that were received and after consultation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the EPA finalized the cleanup plan.

The Onondaga Lake Superfund site, which includes the lake itself, six tributaries and various upland sources of contamination, was placed on the EPA’s Superfund list in 1994. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the EPA have organized the cleanup work for the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site into 11 areas. These areas are in various stages of cleanup.

The cleanup will include excavation and capping of contaminated soil and sediment in Lower Ley Creek and disposal of the excavated soil and sediment. The project area includes the lower two miles of Ley Creek and its shoreline beginning at the Route 11 Bridge and ending downstream at Onondaga Lake. The area also includes Old Ley Creek Channel, an original section of the Creek before Ley Creek was widened and reconfigured during the flood control project.

In addition, the area includes a 3.7-acre wetland on the southern bank of the Creek and several sections of riverbank where contaminated dredged sediment was placed during the flood control project.

During the cleanup, contaminated Creek sediment and soil from the northern and southern banks of the Creek will be excavated. Following the excavation, upland soil areas will be restored with clean soil.

The specific local disposal location will be determined during the design phase of the cleanup. One option being considered for the local disposal of the excavated soil and sediment is the Town of Salina Landfill, within a section of the landfill that has a system in place to contain contaminated liquids from the landfill, called leachate.

Another local disposal option that is being considered is the Cooper Crouse-Hinds North Landfill, also located in the Town of Salina. This landfill will be capped and closed under the State Superfund program in the near future, but a new cell with a liner could be constructed on top of the existing waste at the landfill, which would also include a leachate collection system.

This fall, the EPA will negotiate with parties responsible for contamination at the site to get them to do the engineering and construction work needed to conduct the cleanup work.

Press Release, October 6, 2014

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