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Look back: DEC says it will discuss toxic water concerns in Auburn

The Citizen - 6/15/2024

Jun. 15—June 15, 1994

State Department of Environmental Conservation officials have promised to go back to Smith Corona to discuss changing a plan that calls for the dumping of treated toxic groundwater into the Owasco Lake inlet.

And DEC officials promised to consider the numerous requests that they come to Auburn to discuss their plans — whatever those plans may be.

State Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, and Assemblyman Dan Fessenden, R-Ledyard, met yesterday with Ann Hill DeBarbieri, DEC deputy commissioner for environmental remediation, and reported that for the first time the state agency has been responsive to the concerns of the people of Cayuga County.

"The meeting was not climactic or conclusive, but it was helpful and it was a start," Fessenden said.

Communication has been poor between the DEC and Cayuga County ever since it was learned that the agency is considering a plan by Smith Corona to treat and release as much as 15,000 gallons of water a day for as long as five years into Owasco Lake. The water would be extracted from beneath a toxic waste site in Groton and is one of the last steps in cleaning up the state superfund site on the banks of the Owasco Lake inlet.

The possibility of chemicals like cyanide and mercury in their drinking and recreational water has thousands of Cayuga County residents writing and petitioning Albany. Those residents first heard of the plan in the press. Since then, the DEC has refused to come to Auburn to explain.

DEC officials insist the water is harmless. And they say they have held more informational meetings on the subject than the law requires, including one in the Cayuga County village of Moravia.

The clamor for a public meeting in Auburn has convinced county legislators to allocate money to take the state to court if Smith Corona is given a permit without a hearing in Auburn.


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