Oppose the Possible Swimming Beach at Onondaga Lake

Saturday, February 29, 2020 - 11:00am - 1:00pm
Town of Salina Office, 201 School Rd., Liverpool NY 13088
Click for map

Come to our press conference there at 10:30 and hold a sign. We need you -every voice counts!

This is the third of three public meetings sharing information on the feasibility study on building a swimming beach on Onondaga Lake. The Office of the Environment received many comments from our network of concerned community members and allotted a whole month's notice before this final meeting, as well as agreeing to hold it on Saturday to give full opportunity for people's schedules. Come to the meeting to say No.

Learn more:

Get active:

For more information or to get involved contact A Better Future for Onondaga Lake:

Why is Onondaga Lake (OL) not ready for a beach?

Incomplete remediation: The remediation plan did not dredge 9-10 million cubic yards of sediment contaminated with dangerous, persistent chemicals from Honeywell’s (HW) industrial dumping at levels above, in violation of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) own safety standards. The plan may not effectively contain toxic chemicals or heavy metals. The sediment cap failed three times from 2012 to 2014. The plan does NOT set goals for safe swimming, and fish consumption safety goals are not met. The goal is containment, and 80-90% of contaminated sediment remains.

Remaining toxic contaminants: 26 contaminants of concern are mercury, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc, benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, chlorinated benzenes, PCBs, dioxins/furans, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. These include recognized/suspected carcinogens; developmental, reproductive, kidney, cardio-vascular/blood, endocrine, gastrointestinal/liver, respiratory, and skin/sense organ toxicants; immunotoxins; and neurotoxins. Methyl mercury (aquatic mercury) is in OL fish at levels that surpass federal/state standards. 

Endangerment of human health: Building a beach which may expose people to toxins is a threat to public health. Two of four samples from the northern shore had levels of chromium, cadmium, and mercury that exceeded DEC criteria for lake/wetland contamination. Sampling in the northeastern part of OL has not adequately assessed contamination and, because the plan does not include more sediment sampling in that area (where a beach is proposed); it is unknown what chemicals in the sediment could affect people’s health.

Questionable County decisions: Officials want to suggest that remedial actions under the Superfund are enough and ignore a century of HW’s toxic dumping. They have built trails, fishing sites, and an amphitheater without fully informing the public about the increased risks of exposure. OC refuses to use fish consumption warning signs created for OL by a coalition of environmental organizations and approved by the NYS Department of Health (DoH). OC used an unscientific, leading survey to assess only public opinion of a beach; there is no proof that the lake is swim-safe.

Insufficient swimming standards: DEC does not differentiate between allowable toxin levels for fishing with some water-to-body contact and full-body swimming. DoH swimming standards rely only on bacteria/water clarity/potentially toxic algae and chemical exposure causing acute/immediate health issues. OL water improvement related to swimming standards is entirely from updates at the Metro sewage facility and related bacterial/phosphorous controls, NOT HW’s “remediation” plan. Contaminants dumped by HW may increase cancer risk or cause chronic toxicity with long-term exposure, but OC and state agencies don't consider those health impacts