The Departments of Justice and the Interior recently joined the New York State Office of the Attorney General (NYSOAG) and Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to announce a proposed settlement with Honeywell International Inc. and Onondaga County related to contamination of Onondaga Lake, portions of its tributaries, and surrounding wetlands and uplands.
The proposal would resolve claims brought under the federal Superfund law for damages to natural resources stemming from releases of mercury and other hazardous substances from facilities owned and operated by Honeywell (formerly Allied-Signal) and Onondaga County at the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site in Syracuse, New York.
As part of its operations over many years, Honeywell contributed hazardous substances that resulted in the contamination of Onondaga Lake, portions of its tributaries, and surrounding wetlands and uplands. Hazardous substances from Onondaga County’s operations made their way into Onondaga Lake as well.
The proposed settlement requires Honeywell to implement and maintain 20 restoration projects to restore and protect wildlife habitat and water quality, and increase recreational opportunities at Onondaga Lake.
Honeywell will also pay over $6 million allocated to restoration and preservation programs overseen by the federal and state trustees, Department of Interior, and the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation acting through NYSDEC.
Onondaga County will operate, repair, maintain, and monitor five of these restoration projects located on or adjacent to County parklands for 25 years. The settlement terms are outlined in a proposed consent decree filed in federal court in Syracuse, New York last week. The total value of this proposed settlement is $26 million.
“This settlement will help restore the precious natural resources of the Onondaga Lake watershed, bringing lasting benefits for future generations of Central New Yorkers to enjoy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeff Wood for the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“These funds would support both habitat restoration and protection for the benefit of fish and wildlife, as well as improved opportunities for people to enjoy Onondaga Lake and all that it could offer. We look forward to continuing collaboration with the state, county, Honeywell, and surrounding communities,” said New York Field Supervisor David Stilwell for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“This proposed agreement is another significant step in the remarkable restoration of Onondaga Lake,” said Commissioner Basil Seggos of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “DEC looks forward to the successful implementation of these projects and working with the community on the development of additional restoration work available under the settlement.”
This past August, the trustees, through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of New York, issued a final restoration plan and environmental assessment plan outlining these 20 restoration projects to restore the Lake and wildlife habitat and improve recreational resources.