ONONDAGA LAKE - THE HONEYWELL IMPACT
Every day, about one-half ton of clay and silt flows down Onondaga Creek
and dumps into the lake. These sediments come from the Tully Valley mudboils.
Mudboils are naturally occurring releases for groundwater pressure that
is built up by the unique geology of the Tully valley. However, decades
of mining by predecessors of Honeywell Int. have significantly increased
sediment loading into the lake.
The Solvay wastebeds ring the southwest end of Onondaga Lake. In 1884 Honeywell’s
predecessors beganproducing soda ash on the lakeshore. Roughly 6 million
pounds of salty wastes, made up of chloride, sodium , and calcium were
discharged daily to Onondaga Lake from the soda ash facility before it
closed in 1986. Additional dumping created the Solvay wastebeds, which
continue to leech toxins into Onondaga Lake today.
Methyl mercury, the mercury
found in aquatic systems, is among the most poisonous chemicals known.
Mercury has been measured in fish from Onondaga lake at levels that far
surpass federal and state standards. 165,000 lbs of mercury was discharged
into Onondaga Lake by Allied Chemical (Honeywell’s
predecessor). Scientists estimate that 7 million cubic yards of lake-bottom
sediments are contaminated as a result.
Phosphorus and Ammonia
Algal blooms are a serious problem for Onondaga
Algae drains the water of precious oxygen thereby inhibiting plant and
fish life. Recent upgrades at Syracuse’s main sewage facility have
helped curb algae-promoting nutrients like phosphorus and ammonia. But
these nutrients continue to freely enter the ecosystem from combined
sewer overflows (CSO) that release untreated sewage into tributaries
that flow into the lake.
Honeywell and Onondaga Lake: A Timeline