A clean lake reflects well on all of us.


Cleanup: Industrial Chemicals

Adapted from USEPA, NPL Site Narrative for Onondaga Lake, Federal Register Notice: Dec 16, 1994.

Onondaga Lake was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) in the mid-1990s. The site is located in the City of Syracuse and in the towns of Salina, Geddes, and Camillus. The Site comprises the Lake itself, its tributaries, and the upland hazardous waste sites that have contributed or are contributing contamination to the Lake (sub-sites).

Sub-sites include Honeywell LCP Bridge Street, Honeywell Semet Residue Ponds, Honeywell Wastebed B/Harbor Brook, Honeywell Willis Avenue, the Town of Salina Landfill, General Motors-former Inland Fisher Guide facility, Ley Creek Deferred Media, the GM-Ley Creek Dredgings, and Geddes Brook/Nine Mile Creek.

Onondaga Lake received surface water discharges from various industrial processes as well as municipal wastewater treatment plants. The industrial facilities —mostly located on the west shore of Onondaga lake and many now owned by Honeywell—manufactured numerous organic and inorganic chemicals. The Willis Avenue plant and LCP's Bridge Street plant, used a mercury cell process to produce chlorine, sodium hydroxide, and potassium hydroxide. Each plant discharged aqueous waste streams containing mercury as part of normal operations.

Other waste sources include the Solvay Waste Beds containing by-products generated from soda ash production and Semet Residue Ponds containing wastes generated from acid washing of light oil.

Several consent orders have been signed between Honeywell and NYSDEC related to the Solvay Waste Beds, the Semet Residue Ponds, and groundwater contamination at the location of the Willis Avenue Plant. In early 1992, Honeywell's predecessor (Allied-Signal) and NYSDEC signed a consent decree to perform a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) to determine the type and extent of contamination at Onondaga Lake and to identify alternatives for remedial action.

Remedial Investigation

Adapted from NYSDEC. Onondaga Lake Proposed Plan, Executive Summary. Nov 2004.

Honeywell with NYSDEC oversight conducted field and laboratory investigations in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1999, and 2000. NYSDEC conducted a supplemental lake water investigation in December 2001 and supplemental wetland sampling in May 2002.The following were the key findings of the remedial investigation:


Feasibility Study

The results of the remedial investigation were used during the feasibility study in the development and evaluation of possible remedial alternatives for Onondaga Lake. The goals selected for this site are to achieve the following, to the extent practicable:

Proposed Remedy (underway)

The proposed remedy (referred to as Alternative 4) would remediate all areas of the lake where the surface sediments exceed the cleanup criteria. These cleanup criteria were developed to address acute risks in Onondaga Lake.

Sediment Management Units, Onondaga Lake ROD
SMU 1 - In-Lake Waste Deposit (ILWD)
SMU 2 - Causeway
SMU 3 - Wastebeds 1 through 8
SMU 4 - Mouth of Ninemile Creek
SMU 5 - Northern Shore
SMU 6 - Ley Creek to 700 ft south of Onondaga Creek
SMU 7 - 700 ft South of Onondaga Creek to the ILWD
SMU 8 - Profundal Area

During the feasibility study, Onondaga Lake was separated into eight areas or sediment management units (SMUs) for ease of evaluating alternatives in different portions of the lake. The proposed remedy includes:

The proposed remedy is estimated to include the dredging of up to an estimated 2,653,000 cubic yards of sediment from the littoral zone with most of the dredging being performed in SMU-1 (the ILWD) and SMU-2. It would also include the use of isolation capping over an estimated 425 acres of the littoral zone (within SMUs 1 to 7). An estimated 154 acres of the profundal zone in SMU 8 would receive a thin layer cap.

Other highlights of the proposed remedy:

Schedule & Cost

Remediation of the Onondaga Lake subsite would need to be coordinated with upland remedial activities. The control of contamination migrating to the Lake from the various upland sites (Willis Avenue site, Semet Residue Ponds, Wastebed B/Harbor Brook, LCP/Bridge Street, and Geddes Brook/Ninemile Creek) is an integral part of the overall cleanup of Onondaga Lake. To prevent the recontamination of lake sediments, active sources of contamination to a given portion of the Lake would need to be shut-off before performing cleanup activities in that area of the Lake.

Therefore, the timing of remedial activities in Onondaga Lake would need to be coordinated with the remedial work that would be performed as part of the interim and final remedies at these upland sites.

The remedial construction (dredging and capping) components of this preferred remedy are estimated to take approximately 4 years. This does not include the time it would take to design the remedy which would also take approximately 3 years. Design and construction activities at several of the upland areas would be ongoing while design of the lake remedy was underway.

The estimated present worth cost (2004) to implement the remedy is approximately $451 million. The cost to construct the remedy is estimated to be $414 million, and the estimated average annual operation and maintenance cost is $3 million.