Buffalo, NY—The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to reauthorize and triple the amount being spent for cleaning up contamination at sites around the Great Lakes. Once approved by the Senate, the reauthorized Great Lakes Legacy Act (H.R. 6460/S.R. 2994) will:
• Provide $150 million annually from 2009-2013
• Fund pilot projects using innovative approaches, techniques or technologies to clean up contaminated sediment; and
• Guarantee public involvement and participation.
The 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement identified 43 “Areas of Concern” with 26 sites in U.S. waters and five in shared U.S-Canadian waters.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28), Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), and Congressman John McHugh (NY-23) championed the Great Lakes Legacy Act in the House. New York Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton are both original co-sponsors in the Senate. To date, New York’s Great Lakes toxic hot spots have received almost $20 million to help clean up blighted and orphaned coastal contamination sites.
A few of the Great Lakes Legacy Act Areas of Concern in New York (many more in surrounding states)
New York State’s remaining Great Lakes toxic hot spots include:
Niagara River Area of Concern is located in Erie and Niagara counties. Pollution from inactive hazardous waste sites, sewer overflows, shoreline development, heavy metals and toxic chemicals from industrial waste impair the River’s health.
Buffalo River Area of Concern. Poor water quality, sewer overflows, 45 inactive hazardous waste sites, deformed fish, and contaminated sediments laden with toxic chemicals and heavy metals impair the Buffalo River in the City of Buffalo.
Eighteenmile Creek Area of Concern is located in the Town of Newfane, Niagara County. Fish and wildlife deformities and reproductive problems are linked to sediments contaminated with heavy metals and toxic chemicals, as well as poor water quality and habitat degradation, impair this Lake Ontario tributary.
Rochester Embayment Area of Concern of Lake Ontario in Monroe County is impaired by heavy metals, sewer overflows, toxic organic substances resulting in health advisories for fish consumption.
St. Lawrence River at Massena Area of Concern begins at the Massena Village drinking water intake and includes portions of the Grasse, Raquette and St. Regis Rivers. PCBs, mercury, DDE, Mirex, nutrients, metals, physical disturbance, natural erosion and invasive species impair the River.
Toxic Chemicals and Heavy Metals in Great Lakes Areas of Concern
Chlordane, DDT, Dieldrin and Mirex are man-made chemicals once used as insecticides and flame retardants. They accumulate in the fat of fish and other animals. Exposure impacts the nervous system, liver, kidneys, thyroid gland, and reproduction in animals and people.
Dioxins and Furans are persistent chemicals that accumulate in the fat of fish and other animals. Released as a by-product of manufacturing and emissions from motor vehicles, municipal waste incinerators, wood fires and trash burning. Exposure is linked to skin, reproductive, and liver problems in people.
PCBs are persistent man-made chemicals, banned in the mid-1970s that continue to accumulate in the fat of fish and other animals. PCB exposure is linked to low birth weight, learning disabilities, decreased memory, and reproductive problems.
Mercury is a bioaccumlative toxic heavy metal that poses particular problems for the developing nervous system of children and unborn babies.
Cadmium is a bioaccumaltive toxic metal used in many industrial operations and in consumer products such as paints, plastics and batteries. Long term cadmium exposure adversely impact human’s kidneys, bones, and blood.