System Designed to Protect Air Quality and Minimize Odors; Air Monitoring Results Significantly Below State-Established Site Criteria
Honeywell is undertaking the Onondaga Lake cleanup under the supervision, and at the direction of, federal and state regulatory agencies.
A key part of the cleanup is the Community Health and Safety Plan, which was reviewed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the New York State Department of Health (DOH), and approved by DEC.
In June 2010, EPA released its human health risk assessment, which looked at “potential health impacts to people who live near the facility which will contain sediments removed from the lake and determined that all resulting risk and hazard estimates were within the range or below levels identified by EPA as acceptable.”
According to DEC, “total VOC levels detected at the perimeter monitoring locations comply with the standard established for protecting public health.”
UPDATE: The New York State Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) has approved a plan to suspend the short-term (hourly average) air monitoring program because no work is being conducted over the winter months at the consolidation area, and dredging is completed. DEC will determine when short-term air monitoring begins again in the spring. The long-term, low level (12-month average) air monitoring will continue.
Air Quality Monitoring Protects Health and Safety
Real-time, short-term air monitoring data is submitted to the agencies on a daily basis. In addition, Honeywell has an air monitoring team that investigates air quality at the work site. The Community Health and Safety Plan is available at: lakecleanup.com and www.dec.ny.gov.
The air monitoring system operates 24 hours per day during the dredging season, or during construction activities. There are eight monitoring locations along the consolidation area perimeter where the lake material is processed and pumped into geotextile tubes for drying and safe isolation long term. Five air monitors are located along the lakeshore. Air monitoring is conducted to ensure that levels remain below established government criteria for the site.
Air monitoring results are collected in real time. To provide an additional level of protection and ensure that the criteria are not reached, Honeywell set an even lower level for early warning. If this lower level is reached, it immediately triggers notification to a technician. An evaluation would be conducted, the emission source(s) identified, and operations closely watched to determine if controls are necessary. If the government criteria are reached, operations related to the source(s) would be restricted or stopped until the work is reassessed.
In September 2012, we took the following actions to improve odor controls:
- Installed the misting system
- Significantly reduced temporary standing water in the active water basin
- Installed a cover system for active work areas in the water basin
- Enhanced the capture of vapors from the thickeners by installing a stand-alone carbon filtration system
- Covered geotextile bags with plastic when full. (This practice is no longer in use due to a more effective covering process developed in 2013.)
Although these mitigation measures were effective, last fall and winter some odors were reported. While air quality at the work site perimeter continued to comply with the standards established for protecting public health, DEC and Honeywell worked with engineers, scientists, and odor experts from across the country during the winter to identify additional measures to further reduce the potential for odors.
In 2013, the following additional measures were deployed:
- Substantial upgrades to geotube cover system:
- An alternative cover system was developed that is integrated into the geotubes’ manufacturing process. A prototype was successfully tested, and unused geotubes were sent back to the manufacturer for retrofitting
- Covers over channels between the geotubes
- Applying a sealant on drying geotube bags to more effectively minimize emissions and improve worker safety by reducing the potential for worker slips, trips and falls on site
- Enhanced water management to reduce the flow of water to the geotubes
- Improvement and expansion of the misting system to intercept potential odors
- Containment during transportation and stockpiling of oversized material to reduce potential odors
- Windscreens to enhance the performance of the misting systems by interrupting airflow from the sediment dewatering area
- Installed fans along the northern work site perimeter to increase air flow
Continued Evaluations and Improvements
Building on the system upgrades, which were implemented in the previous dredging seasons and proven to be effective, DEC and Honeywell continued evaluating additional measures to further reduce potential odors.
In 2014, the following additional measures were deployed:
- Installing additional fans along the western work site perimeter
- Increasing the height of the misting system along the western work site perimeter