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EPA Proposes PCB Cleanup Plan for Lower Ley Creek Portion of Onondaga Lake Superfund Site Located in Town of Salina, New York; Public Meeting to Be Held on July 29 in the Town of Salina Town Hall

Release Date: 07/15/2014
Contact Information: Larisa Romanowski, (518) 747-4389, romanowski.larisa@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a plan to clean up contaminated soil and sediment at the Lower Ley Creek area of the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site located in the 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 potentially cancer-causing chemicals that can build up in the tissue of fish and other wildlife and pose a threat to people who eat them. The EPA proposal calls for a combination of excavation, capping and disposal of contaminated soil and sediment.

      “The proposed plan is an important step in the ongoing effort to control sources of contamination to Onondaga Lake and protect people’s health,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “PCBs are dangerous and contaminate fish, so it is important that the Lower Ley Creek be cleaned up.”

      The EPA will hold a public meeting on July 29, 2014 to explain the proposed plan and is encouraging public comments. The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Town of Salina Town Hall, 201 School Road, Liverpool, New York. Comments will be accepted until August 14, 2014.

      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 Lower Ley Creek area is located in an industrialized area in the Town of Salina, just north of Syracuse, New York. Since the late 19th century, several industries have been operating near Ley Creek and its branches. As part of these operations, industrial wastes containing PCB oils and other hazardous substances were discharged into the Creek. In the 1970s, Ley Creek was dredged and redirected through the Town of Salina Landfill by Onondaga County in an effort to control flooding. Dredged material was spread along the shoreline of the Creek and also disposed of at the Town of Salina Landfill.

      The Lower Ley Creek area consists of 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.

      Under the EPA’s proposed plan, contaminated Creek sediment and soil from the northern and southern banks of the Creek will be excavated. Following the excavation, upland soil areas will then be restored with clean soil. The EPA anticipates that the excavated soil and sediment with PCB concentrations less than 50 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) will be able to be properly disposed of locally. Higher concentration soil and sediment will be disposed of out of the area at a licensed disposal facility.

      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 at the landfill, which would also include a leachate collection system. The specific local disposal location would be determined during the design phase of the cleanup, which will begin after the EPA selects the final cleanup plan for the site. Should local disposal be determined not to be viable, all of the material would be sent for proper disposal out of the area.

      The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. At sites which are placed on the Superfund list of the most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and seeks to hold them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups.

      In May 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA reached a legal agreement with Motors Liquidation Company, the successor to the General Motors Corporation after its bankruptcy. For a period of 40 years, General Motors discharged PCBs and other hazardous substances from its Inland Fisher Guide facility into Ley Creek. Under the agreement, the EPA received approximately $22 million for the environmental cleanup of the Lower Ley Creek area.

      The proposed cleanup of the Lower Ley Creek area under the EPA’s plan is expected to cost between $18 and $35.5 million, depending upon the actual volume of estimated contaminated material, the degree to which it is contaminated, and where the excavated soil and sediment is properly disposed.

      Written comments may be mailed, faxed or emailed to:
      Pamela Tames, P.E., Remedial Project Manager
      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Region 2
      290 Broadway, 20
      th Floor
      New York, N.Y. 10007-1866
      fax: (212) 637-3966
      email:
      tames.pam@epa.gov

      More information about the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site can be found at http://www.epa.gov/r02earth/superfund/npl/onondagalake/index.html.

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