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Next Phase of Onondaga Lake Clean-Up Falls Short, Says Onondaga Nation Environmental Attorney

The public will get to hear more details this week about the next phase of remediation to Onondaga Lake along the southwest portion of the lake and where the County plans to extend biking and hiking trails. 


The project will likely cost Honeywell an estimated $12.7 million to cover up toxic waste with a combination of dirt and asphalt.   

Public Meeting Thurs. 8/16 @5:00 p.m., Geddes Town Hall

However, the Environmental Attorney for the Onondaga Nation says it’s not a long-term solution.  Alma Lowry believes the process will result in the area of the lake remaining a permanent waste site.

"Even though the entire area is toxic, the DEC is planning different levels of protection within an area that has similar levels of toxicity. So for this area, some spaces will have two-feet of cover over the toxic contaminants, some spaces will have a foot of cover. There's really no explantion as to why one versus the other."

She adds that it’s not an easy endeavor to completely remove contaminated industrial toxic material which took 50 to 100 years to create.  Lowry is skeptical about the capping of the lake as a means of remediation.

"The default response to contamination around Onondaga Lake has been to cover it up. Most of the sites around Onondaga Lake have involved far more cover than removal. Even in the lake itself where Honeywell talks about how much was dredged, what they don't talk about is how much was left behind.” 

The proposed work involves the area of the lake known as Wastebed B near Harbor Brook.  Lowry suggests that people who would ever consider recreating on the site should review the plan and provide feedback.  The State Department of Environmental Conservation is holding a public meeting this Thursday evening at Geddes Town Hall at 1000 Woods Rd.  The open house begins at 5 p.m. with the meeting to follow at 6 p.m.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at