Discharge is tied to same Niagara Falls, N.Y. waste water plant
By Doug Draper, reporter and publisher, Niagara At Large
Posted August 17th, 2017 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – There has been another overflow of pollution to the Niagara River from the same Niagara Falls, New York waste water treatment plant that released a huge oily looking slick of waste to waters below the Horseshoe and American Falls late this July, reports The Buffalo News.
The discharge occurred this August 15th and added up to nearly three million gallons of untreated waste and storm water entering the waters of the river below the Falls, according to a story the News ran on its front page this August 17th.
“Before Tuesday’s (August 15th) discharge,” reports the newspaper, “data obtained under the state’s Sewage Right-To-Know Law shows at least 14 previous overflows from the same location near the base of the American Falls dating from last September.”
After the massive oily discharge that occurred on July 29th – on a Saturday afternoon with countless thousands of Falls tourists looking on – the call for an investigation of the Niagara Falls, New York waste water plant went right up to the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo.
There has been no expression of concern yet from Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate change or from Environment Canada, even though the Niagara River is a bi-national water body falling under Canada-U.S. agreements for their protection, and even though the waters flow to a Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River that serves as a source of drinking water and as a fishery for millions of residents in Ontario, Quebec and further downstream.
In the days following the July 29th discharge, the only official word from the Ontario environment ministry was that it did not see it as its place to get involved.
“The ministry does not have any involvement as the incident occurred in the U.S.A.,” an Ontario ministry spokesperson was reported saying in an email to one Niagara area newspaper.
That was not the kind of response that came from Ontario Ministry of Environment and Environment Canada officials in the 1980s when the Niagara Falls, New York plant was then identified as one of the lowest point sources dischargers of not only municipal sewage, but toxic chemicals from nearby chemical manufacturers, to the shared waters of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario.
Back then, provincial and federal government officials and politicians called their state and federal counterparts in the U.S. and demanded that they do something to address the problem.
Measures were eventually taken to repair treatment systems at the plant, but that was decades ago and one of the outstanding questions now is ‘are those systems still working properly or being operated properly by the plant staff, or has something broken down?
If there has been a breakdown, that is a matter of concern because that plant was built in the 1970s not only to treat domestic sewage from the Niagara Falls, New York area, but effluent from Occidental, Olin and other major chemical manufactures in the area. The plant, unlike most conventional municipal waste water plants, was fitted with a series of carbon filter beds for the purpose of removing chemicals from the effluent before it reaches bi-national waters.
Niagara At Large will continue to do its best to keep you updated on this serious issue.
Meanwhile, if you would like to read the latest, story in The Buffalo News that posted online on August 16th and published in the paper edition of the newspaper August 17th, click on – http://buffalonews.com/2017/08/16/dec-probing-source-cause-second-sewage-plume-near-falls/ .
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