U.S. Water News Online
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Scientists want to grow shrub willows on
a 662-acre industrial waste bed on the shore of Onondaga Lake as part
of the effort to clean up one of the nation's most polluted
Scientists at the State University College of Environmental
Science and Forestry said the willows, already growing on a test
plot, should serve as a vegetative cover on what is now a mostly
barren dumpsite and help stop salty waste from washing out of the
dump and into the lake, while restoring a natural habitat for
lakeshore plants and animals.
And, there's a bonus, said college President Cornelius Murphy Jr.
The fast-growing willows will be ready to harvest every three
years, after growing 25 to 30 feet, making them a renewable energy
"The idea is that we can potentially get two benefits out of
this," Murphy said. "One benefit is a cap to support a diverse
ecosystem. The other is that we can harvest that crop to create an
Honeywell International Inc., through a 1999 merger with Allied
Chemical, is responsible for cleaning up the industrial pollution in
and around Onondaga Lake, listed as a Superfund site.
State regulators have proposed Honeywell spend $451 million over
seven years to dredge 2.65 million yards of contaminated sediment
from the lake and cover 579 acres of the lake bottom with a cap of
sand, gravel and other material. Honeywell has proposed a $237
million, 3-year plan to dredge 508,000 cubic yards and cap about 350
Honeywell awarded the college a grant of about $300,000 this year
to grow the willows on a six-acre test plot. The waste beds contain
mostly inert material, mainly calcium carbonate and similar salty
byproducts from the production of soda ash at the old Allied complex.
Murphy said the results of the pilot project have been
The college and Honeywell recently submitted a report to the state
Department of Environmental Conservation.
Ken Lynch, the DEC's regional director in Syracuse, said the
report was being reviewed.
"But preliminary indications are that the willows do have a
positive effect," he said.
Honeywell officials also are encouraged, said Victoria Streitfeld,
a Honeywell spokeswoman.
Streitfeld said about 35,000 trees were planted so far in three
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