Cayuga Lake Defense Fund
P. O. Box 294, Ithaca, NY 14851 607/275-9054,
10/7/99 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Previously Undisclosed EPA Documents Released by Cayuga Lake Defense Fund
The Cayuga Lake Defense Fund today released documents revealing
that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Cornell University
and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) entered
into secret negotiations on a Lake Source Cooling settlement that did not
involve public input. All three institutions publicly disavowed the
Richard DePaolo, spokesperson for the Cayuga Lake Defense Fund,
said: "These documents prove that citizens were deliberately misled and
barred from discussing serious shortcomings in the assessment of Lake
Source Cooling's environmental impact as well as efforts to reverse
Cayuga Lake's widespread pollution problems."
The internal documents were obtained through the Freedom of
Information Act. They show that the EPA proposed an agreement to Cornell
and the DEC
(attached) on 7/21/99 that
Public Deliberately Misled About Secret Lake Source Cooling (LSC)
DEC and Cornell Opposed EPA Plan to Address LSC Concerns and
Curtail Lake Pollution
Hinchey and Luster Urged to Ensure Public Participation in Reopened
This proposal addresses key concerns voiced by the Cayuga Lake
Defense Fund. First, that the assessment of LSC's water quality impact
was fundamentally inadequate. Second, that the project's discharge permit
was illegally granted because it would "cause or contribute" to existing
water quality violations in southern Cayuga Lake. Finally, that non-point
source pollution hazards, notably urban and agricultural runoff and eroded
streambanks, must be controlled to reverse the degradation of Cayuga
According to a 7/22/99 EPA memo
news on Cornell," Cornell reportedly "agreed generally" to proposals #1
("criteria") and #3 ("offsets") actions without agreeing to "specifics"
while opposing proposal #2 (outfall relocation study). The DEC reportedly
did not support any of the three proposals.
In a document sent today by EPA to concerned citizens
regarding the agency's review of LSC, neither the outfall relocation study
nor the development and implementation of "offsets" project(s) to reduce
diffuse loadings of phosphorus to the Lake was mentioned. The EPA
document did include a provision to develop "criteria" that would be used
to determine whether LSC will cause adverse impacts on Cayuga Lake, though
the wording "explicit criteria" has been dropped at the urging of DEC.
Walter Hang, a resident of Ithaca who first learned of the
secret negotiations during an August phone call to EPA officials, said:
"The EPA must ensure that its three original proposals are undertaken as a
prerequisite for granting a discharge permit to LSC." "It is
inconceivable that this unprecedented wastewater discharge to Cayuga Lake
has been permitted without adequate safeguards."
Hang added: "Local, state and federal elected
representatives must immediately reopen negotiations on the EPA's proposal
and require all discussions to include the public." Hang concluded: "It
is obvious that impartial government authorities will have to lead these
negotiations since Cornell, DEC and EPA have destroyed their credibility
when it comes to protecting Cayuga Lake from Lake Source Cooling."
Letters were sent to Congressman Maurice Hinchey and
Assemblyman Martin Luster to inform them of the documents being released
and to ask them to take immediate action to reopen the negotiations with
full public participation.
Finally, the Cayuga Lake Defense Fund is posting the
internal EPA documents on its web site (www.cldf.org) for public review.
- 1) Development of "explicit criteria" that would be used to
determine whether LSC will cause adverse impacts on Cayuga Lake;
- 2) Completion of an outfall relocation study to evaluate
"alternative, extended outfall locations." This study would determine
whether an outfall location below the "photic zone (about ten meters deep)
would effectively prevent any additional loading of phosphorus from
causing algal growth;"
- 3) "Development and implementation of project(s) to reduce diffuse
loadings of phosphorus to the Lake. The main focus of this effort will be
to identify nonpoint sources or similar diffuse sources of phosphorus, and
to develop mitigation projects to control the source(s). This project
could serve as a model to test the concept of "offsets" which is being
discussed at the national level as a potential element of the permitting
of new dischargers to stressed waters."
Prepared by the
Cayuga Lake Defense Fund (CLDF).
For more information, Call: (607) 275-9054 or 272-7914