Progress Continues on Onondaga Lake Restoration
State Environmental Authorities Release Updated Design on Key Elements of Cleanup Plan
June 29, 2010 – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today released an updated design for the restoration of Onondaga Lake. The lake remediation plan, issued by the DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, calls for a combination of dredging and capping—environmental cleanup methods that will remediate the contamination in sediments and water.
The updated design describes how material will be pumped from the lake and managed within a containment area, as well as how the water that drains from the material will be collected and sent to a new water treatment plant.
Comprehensive efforts to protect the public’s health and safety are an important part of the work to restore the lake. Health and safety plans are reviewed by DEC and the New York State Department of Health and are incorporated into every stage of the restoration. On June 18, DEC released the Health and Safety plan for the construction of the containment area to hold materials removed from the lake, as well as the initial work for the water treatment plant. Community health and safety plans for operational activities will be available for public review and comment in the summer of 2011.
Honeywell has made great progress on the cleanup of Onondaga Lake. Two phases of the underground barrier wall are complete. The wall, located along portions of I-690 in Geddes, prevents contaminated groundwater from reaching the lake. Work will continue throughout the summer.
Location of Underground Barrier Wall
In 2004, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Honeywell began working in partnership to create a sustainable Shrub Willow Farm in Camillus. The shrub willows are creating a productive landscape that is generating renewable energy while providing an effective vegetative cover. There are now more than 100,000 willows thriving on 15 acres. Another 25 acres are being prepared for plantings later this year.
In May, as part of the Onondaga Lake Citizen Participation Plan, DEC formed a Citizen Participation Working Group that will focus on communication activities related to the containment area. This group, made up of community members, ensures that the public has a forum to contribute information and make recommendations about the project. They will review and provide comments on the health and safety plans and make recommendations on how to enhance the dissemination of information to the public.
The lake cleanup design calls for material to be dredged from the lake and transported through a double-walled pipe to the containment area. Booster pumps, which will help mange the flow of the material, will be powered by electric motors and installed away from residences.
At the containment area the dredged materials will be stored in geotextile tubes, which have a proven track record in these types of projects. Geotextile tubes are made to specific standards from industrial strength materials and undergo extensive quality testing.
The geotextile tubes will retain the sediments. These tubes provide many advantages, including effective odor control, a significant reduction in the size of the containment area, and enhanced buffer zones around the perimeter of the area.
A high-strength liner will be placed on a clay layer at the bottom of the containment area, safely sealing the material inside the facility (see orange line in graphic below). Water drained from the geotextile tubes will be collected, treated at a water treatment plant, and returned to the lake. Once the lake cleanup is complete an additional high-strength liner will be placed above the geotextile tubes. There will be additional layers of clean soil above the liner. Vegetation will be planted on top.
The containment area, which is designed to protect health and the environment, will be extensively monitored to make certain all materials remain inside.
Initial construction activities will begin this summer. The containment area will operate during dredging activities, which will begin in 2012.
The DEC fact sheet on the sediment management design, as well as other facts on the lake cleanup, are available at www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/37558.
Individuals interested in more information should contact Honeywell at 315-552-9784.