Onondaga Lake Initiatives


On November 29, 2004 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its proposed plan for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake. This website provided information about the progress of the cleanup.
The content below is from the site's 2004-2008 archived pages.


Onondaga Lake, a 4.6-square-mile lake located just northwest of the city of Syracuse in central New York State, has been the signature feature of the surrounding community for hundreds of years. Beginning in the 1600s with the production of salt extracted from formations in the area’s underlying geology, Onondaga Lake has long provided a resource for industrial activity that generated the original growth of the region and the community.

However, 200 years of population growth and urban development - including industrial activity, residential development, and the sewage and stormwater runoff that result from urbanization - have impacted the lake through the introduction of nutrients, mercury, and various other substances. Nonetheless, the lake still provides a valuable natural resource to the Syracuse community, providing many recreation opportunities as well as resources for fish and wildlife.
In 1992, AlliedSignal (now known as Honeywell) entered into a consent decree with the state of New York to initiate a remedial investigation (RI) and feasibility study (FS) for Onondaga Lake. As one of several parties associated with historical discharges to the lake, Honeywell is committed to taking appropriate actions to address the environmental legacy left by more than 100 years of operations at the former AlliedSignal plants.


The overarching goal of this FS is to evaluate a full range of potential remedial technologies and alternatives for Onondaga Lake and to develop a recommended remedy that:

  1. Protects human health and the environment,
  2. Diversifies and optimizes the habitat for wildlife,
  3. Can be implemented in a timely manner, and
  4. Remediates this valuable recreational and ecological resource for the community.

Honeywell has committed to developing a technically sound FS that recommends a remedy for the lake that meets these objectives. To prepare this FS, Honeywell was assisted by more than 100 technical experts representing more than 25 consulting firms and dozens of technical disciplines including biology, lake ecology, chemistry, toxicology, sediment dredging, sediment capping, civil and environmental, engineering, habitat restoration, ecological risk assessment, geology, hydrogeology, groundwater fate and transport modeling, supernatant water treatment, and construction.




On November 29, 2004 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its proposed plan for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake. The public has the opportunity to learn more about the specifics of the plan and submit comments during DEC's public comment period, which ends March 1, 2005. For a look at the plan in its entirety and to submit comments, visit www.dec.state.ny.us/website/der/projects/ondlake/.

Honeywell and DEC share the same goal — to implement a cleanup that protects human health and the environment. DEC's proposed plan is based in part on a three-volume study called a Feasibility Study (or FS) that Honeywell submitted in May 2004 in response to the agency's request and resubmitted with additional information in November 2004. DEC's plan calls for a combined dredging/capping remedy generally in line with the approach recommended in the FS. The primary difference between the DEC plan and the FS is the volume of sediment that would be removed from the southern shoreline of the lake. The DEC plan calls for the removal of up to 2.65 million cubic yards of sediment, while the FS plan calls for the removal of more than 500,000 cubic yards of sediment.

The FS reflects more than 12 years of scientific analysis and engineering studies that evaluated a wide range of cleanup options. Deciding on an environmentally sound course of action required more than 90,000 hours of analysis by more than 100 national and local experts. The cleanup plan in the FS is a comprehensive remedy designed to:

  • protect human health and the environment,
  • meet the performance criteria established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
  • improve the habitat for fish and wildlife,
  • improve recreational opportunities and expand public access to the lake, and
  • create the conditions allowing, over time, for the lake's natural recovery.

Honeywell is currently evaluating DEC's proposed plan. We remain committed to working with the state to finalize an approach and implement an appropriate remedy. Obviously this will take time. It's not as if the rugs in your New York City apartment got stained and you were looking for a company that offers reliable rug cleaning service NYC. In comparison, that's a simple job, just ask your neighbors for recommendations, look online for rug cleaning companies in your local areas, or as old timers once use to do, look in the yellow pages of a telephone book. On the other hand, cleaning up Onondaga Lake properly is going to take years to do, so patience is of the essence. This site gives just a snapshot over a four year period of what the clean up will entail.


Honeywell Begins Additional Data Collection on Onondaga Lake; Prepares for 1,000 New Lake Samples

August 25, 2005 - Honeywell is making additional progress on the cleanup of Onondaga Lake as it begins collecting new water and sediment samples. The work, which will include nearly 1,000 samples over the next two and a half months, is part of the rigorous scientific planning necessary for future cleanup activities.

Beginning August 25, 2005, crews will install a temporary dock along the southwest shore of the lake near Interstate 690. Honeywell's engineers and scientists will use the dock during the late summer and fall to collect samples from sediment, groundwater and water from the lake. 

"New data will be used in the implementation of the remediation plan to make sure that the remedy protects human health and the environment for the future," said Honeywell Syracuse Remediation Director John McAuliffe.

Construction is underway on a new groundwater treatment facility in Geddes that will prevent contaminated groundwater from entering the lake, along with the cleanup and removal of contaminated soil at the former Linden Chemicals and Processing (LCP) plant property on Bridge Street.


Honeywell Agrees to Implement State Supervised Onondaga Lake Cleanup

October 12, 2006 - Honeywell today announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to implement the Onondaga Lake cleanup plan as outlined in the state's Record of Decision (ROD) issued on July 1, 2005.
The Consent Decree is the result of 12 years and 90,000 hours of intensive effort by world class scientists, engineers and technicians working in cooperation with DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The cleanup plan, which will be carried out under DEC supervision, was approved by DEC and EPA in 2005. The Consent Decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and review by a federal judge.

"Today marks the culmination of years of work to produce a cleanup plan for Onondaga Lake. Everyone in Central New York can be confident that this plan is based on sound science, thorough regulatory review and extensive public participation," said Honeywell Vice President Katherine Adams. "Honeywell is ready to implement the plan and we are committed to conducting this work under state supervision until it is complete."

The remedy outlined in the ROD calls for the dredging and disposal of up to 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediments, construction of an isolation cap over an estimated 425 acres in the shallower areas of the lake, construction of a thin-layer cap over an estimated 154 acres in the lake’s deeper areas, monitored natural recovery, wetland and habitat restoration, as well as long-term maintenance and monitoring.

Under the Consent Decree, Honeywell will, within 150 days after entry of the Consent Decree in federal court, submit to the state a Remedial Design Work Plan outlining activities and schedules for implementation of the remedy. The work plan will be based on relevant EPA and DEC guidance documents. Within 30 days after the state approves the plan, Honeywell will begin the work authorized in the plan, which is expected to take nine years to complete.

The Consent Decree calls for Honeywell to assist the state in its implementation of a citizen participation program, requiring Honeywell to cooperate with the state in providing information regarding the remediation plan to the public.



Onondaga Lake Cleanup Progress Continues

Honeywell Collects New Data for Lake Cleanup Design and Second Phase of Barrier Wall Construction

Honeywell has begun the next phase of sediment and water sample collection along the shoreline and in Onondaga Lake. The sampling data will be used in the design of the lake cleanup and construction of the second phase of the barrier wall along the Causeway Bridge (north of Interstate 690 and State Fair Boulevard).

Throughout the spring and summer, sediment and water samples will be collected in the lake between Nine Mile Creek and Onondaga Creek to determine how groundwater flows into Onondaga Lake and to measure water quality within the lake sediments. Barges in the southwestern corner of the lake will collect sediment samples, which will be used to design the second phase of the barrier wall, the Willis/Causeway section.

During the week of April 30, 2007, Honeywell began installing equipment that will support the collection and treatment of groundwater collection behind the Semet section of the barrier wall. When construction of all three sections of the wall is complete, the one-and-one-half mile barrier wall will stop contaminated groundwater from reaching Onondaga Lake.

"The data collection and construction work continues our progress on the cleanup of Onondaga Lake," said Honeywell Syracuse Program Director John McAuliffe. "By finishing the Willis Avenue Groundwater Treatment Plant one year ahead of schedule, we are able to speed up each phase of the barrier wall construction. This will ensure we stop contamination from entering the lake and begin construction of the lake cleanup on schedule.The work for the lake cleanup Remedial Design Work Plan is on track and will be finalized this summer."

The barrier wall is being built in three phases under the supervision of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Phase one, the Semet section, extends from the West Side Pump Station (near Exit 7 on I-690) to the Causeway Bridge. This construction was completed in December 2006.

The second section, the Willis/Causeway section, will extend from the Semet section to the East Flume, and the third section, the Harbor Brook portion, will extend from the East Flume to Harbor Brook.