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EPA Proposes Sections of the Black River to the Superfund List

Release Date: 03/02/2010
Contact Information: Mike Basile (716) 551-4410, basile.michael@epa.gov

(New York, NY) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to add sections of the Black River, which runs through the villages of Carthage and West Carthage, Jefferson County, NY to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites because sediment in the river and along its banks are contaminated with hazardous substances. The Black River is a popular location for recreation and fishing; people often eat the fish caught in the river. The Superfund listing would enable EPA to investigate the contamination of the sediment and to take actions to address it. The Black River empties into the eastern end of Lake Ontario.

“By adding sections of the Black River site to the Superfund list, EPA will investigate the contamination and take actions to address it,” said Judith Enck, Regional Administrator. “We want to make sure that the river is cleaned up and that it can be a major economic and recreational resource for the communities along it."

Active and inactive paper mills, a machine shop, the Carthage/West Carthage sewage treatment plant, and a hydroelectric power plant are currently located along the Black River in the villages of Carthage and West Carthage. In February 2000, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) issued a report that evaluated the sediment in the Black River, its tributaries, and other tributaries discharging directly into the Eastern Lake Ontario drainage basin. The report identified PCB-contaminated sediment immediately downstream of the Carthage/West Carthage sewage treatment plant. As a follow-up to this study, NYSDEC issued another report that focused on the sediment contamination in the Black River and confirmed the presence of elevated levels of PCBs.

In February 2006, NYSDEC referred the site to EPA. The Agency subsequently collected sediment samples from the Black River, as well as along the banks in the summer of 2009. Results confirmed the presence of elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) downstream of the historical and present locations of paper mills and other industrial facilities. In addition to PCBs, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) were found in river sediments. PCBs may cause cancer and may impact the immune system, the reproductive system, the nervous system and the endocrine system.

The segment of the Black River that is being proposed to the Superfund list starts near the former and existing paper mills and continues downstream. A remedial investigation will be conducted to determine the nature and extent of the contamination. EPA encourages public comment on the Black River Superfund proposal. For instructions on submitting comments, go to http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/pubcom.htm or contact Ildefonso Acosta, Region 2 NPL Coordinator at (212) 637-4344 or acosta.ildefonso@epa.gov.

To date, there have been 1,620 sites included on the federal Superfund list. Of these sites, 341 sites have been deleted, resulting in 1,279 sites remaining on the list.

To find out more about the EPA’s Superfund Process, visit: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/npl_hrs.htm. Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2.

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