Syracuse Post Standard
By Delen Goldberg
Almost 100 people showed up Thursday at the state fairgrounds to discuss Honeywell International’s strategy to clean Onondaga Lake, and the vast majority said they supported the company’s plans.
Only a handful of speakers criticized the cleanup project.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation hosted two public meetings Thursday to hear people’s thoughts about the future of Onondaga Lake. Last week, Honeywell officials agreed to spend $451 million to clean up toxic waste from the lake, ending a 17-year legal battle. The deal marked the largest legal settlement against a polluter in state history.
Local politicians, scientists and representatives of various interest groups praised Honeywell for taking on the task of cleaning one of the most polluted lakes in the country. Residents who use the lake for boating echoed their words.
“It’s time we take action and move forward,” said Sherry Mossotti, a 40-year Onondaga County resident. “We owe it to our community, to our children. It’s been too long. We can’t afford not to move forward.”
Critics of the plan also spoke of future generations. But they said they worried that their children and grandchildren would inherit a lake still drenched in pollution.
“I’m concerned the plan doesn’t look far enough to the future,” said Lindsay Speer, a third-generation Syracusan who works at the Onondaga Environmental Institute, a publicly funded research group. “There is a time when the engineered constructs will fail. We’ll still have the mercury, the toxins, and they will come back to haunt us. I don’t want haste to deprive us of what we can have in the future.”
Honeywell expects another five years of planning before dredging and capping begins, said Ken Lynch, the DEC’s regional director in Syracuse, and details of the plan are still being worked out.