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Funding Is Part Of Over $1 Billion For Clean Up Projects At Superfund Sites Across The Country And Will Help Dispose Of Soil Contaminated With Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) And Other Toxic Pollutants Along Onondaga Lake Superfund Site, Launching Cleanup Activities While EPA Works To Continue To Hold Polluters Accountable For Years Of Damage

Schumer, Gillibrand: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law $$$ Are Flowing To Clean Up Onondaga Lake And Ley Creek

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will award approximately $23 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Law to kickstart cleanup of the Ley Creek portion of the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site.

“Syracuse and the communities surrounding Onondaga Lake have seen firsthand how transformative the Superfund program can be. Onondaga Lake was once one of the most polluted lakes in the country, but because of decades of work by activists and the strengthened federal environmental laws, the waterways are the cleanest they have been in nearly a century, but there is still much more to be done. Today, thanks to our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, an estimated $23 million in federal funding will flow to jumpstart the cleanup of the Ley Creek portion of the Onondaga Lake Superfund site – while the EPA continues work to hold polluters accountable,” said Senator Schumer. “Our work is far from finished, but kick starting the cleanup of these long polluted sites and waterways is exactly what the Superfund funding I fought to supercharge in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was meant to do. I am proud to deliver this federal funding so that cleanup for Central NY can finally get underway and vow to continue to fight for the resources needed to protect our beautiful Central New York waterways.”

“This is a critical investment that will help clean up dangerous and widespread contaminants in New York’s waterways,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m proud that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is providing this funding to help clean up contamination at Onondaga Lake. I’m thrilled to announce this funding and will continue to address legacy pollution and to improve public health for all."

“Onondaga Lake is an extraordinary natural resource. There has been great progress over decades to address the legacy of contamination in the lake. There is, however, more work to be done to complete the restoration of the lake; protect the environment and wildlife in and around the lake; and maximize its potential to the city and our region. I thank Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Gillibrand for their support of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Law which is making this funding possible,” said Mayor of Syracuse Ben Walsh.

“I want to thank New York Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, the EPA and all those involved for delivering the funding to advance this important cleanup initiative. This issue has languished for decades and proper removal of PCBs from soil and sediments from the GM site and Ley Creek streambed is long overdue. The results will provide lasting environmental benefits for the entire Onondaga Lake watershed including fish and wildlife, and critical health benefits for nearby residents, downstream neighbors, and local business,” said Onondaga Environmental Institute President Edward M. Michalenko, Ph.D. 

The Onondaga Lake Superfund Site includes the lake and seven other waterways, as well as several land-based sources of contamination. Industries around Onondaga Lake discharged pollutants and sewage into the lake for more than 100 years. 12 subsites have been created for the site, including the General Motors–Inland Fisher Guide subsite and the Ley Creek Deferred Media portion of the site, which includes a portion of Ley Creek and its floodplains. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will be used to address soil on the floodplains and sediment in Ley Creek that are contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals.

The overall project will include excavating, disposing of, and backfilling approximately 144,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil from the floodplains and excavating and disposing of about 9,600 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the bottom of Ley Creek. Today’s funding will pay for approximately $23 million worth of cleanup work to begin remedial action as the EPA continues to engage with responsible parties to hold polluters of the site accountable.   

This funding is made possible through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Law which allocated $3.5 billion to spur long overdue Superfund cleanup work at sites across the country. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERLCA), most often referred to as the Superfund program, was established by Congress in 1980 to investigate and facilitate cleanup of the nation’s most complex, uncontrolled, and abandoned hazardous waste sites. Only sites added to the National Priorities List (NPL) are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term permanent cleanup. The EPA’s Superfund program operates under the “polluter pays” principle, giving the EPA the authority to require polluters to take responsibility for cleanup of the environmental contamination they caused. EPA adds sites to the NPL when mismanagement of contamination threatens human health and the environment.