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Onondaga Lake cleanup makes big strides in 2014

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Ellen Abbott
/
WRVO
Dredging on Onondaga Lake (file photo

This was a milestone year in the ongoing cleanup of Onondaga Lake. The Honeywell Corporation finished up the dredging portion of the cleanup this fall, removing 2.2 million cubic yards of toxic sludge from the bottom of the lake a year ahead of schedule.

The dredging has probably  been the most visible part of the company’s $451 million lake clean up plan.

Syracuse University engineering professor Charlie Driscoll says the community is close to the end of a massive cleanup effort of a waterway that, for years, was a dumping ground for industry.

"The technologies that have been used, the groups of people that have come together, that have dealt with three simultaneous problems that have caused the degradation of the lake," Driscoll said. "The technology and innovation is nothing short of remarkable."

Driscoll says the result is a massive transformation.

“This lake is now very clean," Driscoll said. "It meets all water standards except for fish mercury, and that is moving close to a good condition as well.”

Onondaga Lake was once called the most polluted lake in the nation after years of industrial waste led to the waterway's degradation.  

“Many restoration projects do not really fill the goals they set out," Driscoll explained. "Where here, the goals are pretty much all met.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.