St. Lawrence River at Massena Area of Concern
U.S. EPA RAP Liaison
Elizabeth VanRabenswaay (email@example.com) 212-637-3881
State RAP Contact
Citizen Participation Specialist
NYSDEC, Region 6 Office
State Office Building
Watertown, NY 13601
St. Lawrence River Remedial Advisory
Ron McDougall, Chair
315-764-0271 or 315-764-2293
St. Lawrence River at Massena RAC
General Motors Powertrain
Route 37 East, PO Box 460
Massena, NY 13662
Other Local Coordinators:
Michael R. Twiss, Ph.D.
Director, Great Rivers Center
8 Clarkson Avenue
Potsdam, NY, 13699-5805
Director of Education
St. Lawrence Discovery Center
Stowell Hall Room 111
Potsdam, NY 13676
Dawn C. Howard
Conservation District Manager
St. Lawrence County Soil & Water Conservation District
1942 Old DeKalb Road
Canton, NY 13617
Jessica L. Jock
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe
412 State Route 37
Akwesasne, NY 13655
St. Lawrence County Planning Office
48 Court Street
Canton, NY 13617
- Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment
- Atlantic States Legal Foundation
- City of Massena
- Clarkson University
- Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance (FL-LOWPA)
- General Motors
- Great Lakes Research Consortium
- Great Lakes United
- Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force
- Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP)
- Lake Ontario Sportfishing Promotional Council
- New York Power Authority
- New York Rivers United
- New York Sea Grant Extension
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- New York State Department of Health
- Sierra Club
- St. Lawrence River at Massena Remedial Advisory Committee
Lawrence County Government
- St. Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District
- St. Lawrence County Tourism
- St. Lawrence County Water Quality Advisory Committee
- St. Lawrence County Water Quality Coordinating Committee
- St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Environment Division
- State University of New York (SUNY) at Potsdam
- Upstate Freshwater Institute
- U.S. EPA – Great Lakes National Program Office
- U.S. EPA, Region 2 - New York City
- Beneficial Use Impairments
- Delisting Targets
- RAP Development and Status
- Significant RAP Milestones
- RAP Implementation
- RAP-Related Publications
- Community Involvement
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The St. Lawrence River at Massena Remedial Action Plan (RAP) Area of Concern (AOC) begins above the power dam facilities and seaway locks at the Massena Village drinking water intake and follows the river downstream for about fifteen miles to the international border. For New York State, the AOC includes portions of the Grasse, Raquette and St. Regis Rivers. There are three governmental agency groupings that share jurisdictional responsibilities for the AOC. These are the United States, Canada, and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe at Akwesasne. The Cornwall portion of the AOC includes lands in Ontario, Quebec, and the Mohawks extending downstream of the power dam to the eastern outlet of Lake St. Francis.
Pollution from past local area industrial production and waste disposal practices created contaminated sediments and hazardous waste sites that to a large degree have been and are being remediated. The sources and causes include PCBs, mercury, DDE, Mirex, nutrients, metals, physical disturbance, natural erosion and invasive species. Large area remedial projects at Alcoa and General Motors sites have contributed significantly to the restoration and protection of beneficial uses in the AOC. After the Grasse River and limited land-based remedial measures are completed, a reassessment of the status of the beneficial use indicators is to be conducted. When including the installation of water and air pollution discharge equipment, the total costs of the Massena area cleanup will likely exceed one billion dollars. Environmental monitoring will play an important role in verifying that delisting targets and criteria have been achieved.
A comprehensive RAP Update document was published in1995 that established a format to identify remedial strategies and track progress based on the Stage 1 and 2 documents developed five years earlier. RAP Status Reports in 2000 and 2006 serve to identify remedial progress and strategies addressing delisting. Because of the international aspect of this RAP, an evaluation of the possible transboundary effects associated with downstream interests and jurisdictions is an important consideration for this connecting channel Area of Concern. International cooperation has been fostered by the completion of a Stage 1 comparative summary, joint monitoring statements, and the current development of delisting criteria for the AOC. An annual Ecosystem Conference is conducted each Spring to maintain information sharing for this important St. Lawrence River area. The Canadian St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences (SLRIES) in Cornwall, Ontario, and the Great Rivers Center of Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, each promote research and the conference. SLRIES continues to act as the lead host.
U.S. EPA plans to fund RAP Coordination for the Massena AOC. This funding should occur late in 2006 with implementation essentially starting in 2007. New York’s Great Lakes Research Consortium continues to seek funding for the proposed development of a St. Lawrence River-Lake Ontario Research (SLRLO) Initiative. Although major funding has not been granted, the Consortium has received planning money. The International Joint Commission completed its RAP Status Assessment for the St. Lawrence River AOC in 2003 and identified successes, challenges, and recommendations.
The three governmental agency groupings that share jurisdictional responsibilities for the St. Lawrence River AOC are: 1) the Canadian jurisdiction consisting of the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and the Canadian federal government (Environment Canada); 2) the United States jurisdiction consisting of New York State and the US federal government (U.S. EPA); and, 3) the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe at Akwesasne. Although the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the federal governments of Canada and the US identifies the Area of Concern as binational, it is truly a multi-national representation that will ultimately lead to delisting the AOC and addressing the watershed impacts and transboundary assessment. Hence, needs for a "transboundary indicator" and the inclusion of the jurisdiction of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe are required to comprehensively address the Area of Concern.
Members from each of the intergovernmental jurisdictions (Canada, US, and Mohawks) met in May 2004 to focus on the following objectives: 1) understanding the status of each RAP; 2) reviewing delisting criteria status; 3) identifying monitoring and next step needs; and, 4) identifying opportunities for collaboration in delisting efforts. Discussions included reference to the International Joint Commission’s 2003 Status Assessment Report as well as highlighting the challenges anticipated by the RAP coordinators. A review of guidelines for operating an advisory committees including goals and reporting benefited the attendees. Sharing information and data in implementing the strategies was identified as a key. The jurisdictions agreed to work together to make incremental progress in addressing each of the beneficial use indicators.
Beneficial Use Impairments
- Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
- Loss of fish and wildlife habitat
In addition, five beneficial uses need further assessment to determined their status:
- Degradation of fish and wildlife populations (further assessment needed)
- Fish tumors or other deformities (further assessment needed)
- Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems (further assessment needed)
- Degradation of benthos (further assessment needed)
- Degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations (further assessment needed)
"Transboundary Impacts" are an added consideration.
Certain waters, river bottoms, and land areas of the AOC have been impacted by industrial practices and discharges from both sides of the river. Other identified upstream sources included Lake Ontario, municipal treatment facilities, atmospheric deposition, non-point source discharges and physical disturbances as a result of the power dam and seaway construction. Historically, local industry is the major source of contaminants to the AOC. The primary use impairments involve fish consumption restrictions, loss of fish and wildlife habitat, and transboundary impacts. Consumption restrictions are associated with contaminated river sediments, hazardous waste sites and industrial discharges, and also involve the larger lakewide advisories associated with Lake Ontario. The primary cause contributing to these restrictions is the evidence involving PCBs. The loss of fish and wildlife habitat are attributed to physical disturbances (dam and seaway construction) and contaminated sediments. Transboundary impacts involve primarily downstream considerations, cross river effects to a lesser degree, upstream impacts from Lake Ontario, and atmospheric deposition.
The primary use impairment in the St. Lawrence River at Massena AOC is "restrictions on fish consumption". Fish consumption advisories are part of a lakewide advisory for Lake Ontario. There is evidence that PCBs, mercury and dioxin contribute to this impairment. A second impairment, the loss of fish and wildlife habitat, is believed to be caused by physical disturbances and contaminated sediments. Transboundary impacts of contaminants, primarily downstream, must be monitored and assessed as part of an intergovernmental undertaking for the AOC.
The five use impairment indicators needing further assessment are: degradation of fish and wildlife populations, fish tumors or other deformities, bird and animal reproductive problems/ deformities, and degradation of plankton. Because partial body contact is supported and the beaches are open the beach indicator remains not impaired. The seasonal drinking water taste and odor condition is managed as a nuisance and has been confirmed to not be a current health threat or complaint. Dredging restrictions are not impaired for the dredging associated with the St. Lawrence River Seaway; however the Grasse River remediation remains to be addressed.
The Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC) and New York State DEC have further developed endpoints to define the beneficial uses, delisting criteria to be addressed, and remedial strategies to achieve goals. These criteria and strategies are being applied to focus attention on priority remedial activities and to document progress as beneficial uses are restored and protected. This RAP process is continuing for the Stage Three documentation for the AOC.
For further information and details on all of the BUIs, see a corresponding St. Lawrence River Beneficial Use Impairments (PDF) (4pp, 85K) document and the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) documents listed in the Significant RAP Milestones section.
Delisting targets have been and are being developed for the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. In New York State, Remedial Advisory Committees for the six AOCs have been working on defining specific endpoints and delisting criteria for each of the beneficial use indicators. In doing this, committee persons have found it most helpful to define first in their terms what the endpoints are that describe the condition of restoration and protection for the designated use. For the St. Lawrence River RAP, these delisting targets have been developed based on work in other AOCs (e.g. Stage 3 delisting criteria for the Oswego River) and applied in the RAP as endpoints for the St. Lawrence River at Massena AOC.
The Massena advisory committee has acted to identify endpoints and delisting criteria. The Cornwall part of the AOC has done this also. Members of the committees and governments among Canada, the United States, and Mohawk Nation have met and agreed on a strategy to share information while making joint progress on addressing the beneficial use indicators for the AOC. For the St. Lawrence River AOC, this process is underway. Below are summary endpoint statements for the eleven indicators subject to further assessment in the Massena RAP. Detailed delisting criteria need further development.
- Fish Consumption* - advisory(s) are part of larger St. Lawrence River; not AOC.
- Fish Habitat* - no restricted use of habitat from flow or contamination.
- Transboundary Impact* - AOC sources eliminated, stream impacts addressed.
- Fish Populations - similar to refer community; healthy and sustainable.
- Fish Tumors - no abnormal high tumor incidence or deformities
- Birds or Animals - no abnormal high deformities incidence or reproduction prob.
- Benthos - community integrity substantially similar to reference.
- Dredging - no Army Corps of Engineers restrictions.
- Beach Closure - all beaches in AOC open to swimming.
- Plankton - populations substantially similar to reference.
- Taste and Odor - no drinking water restrictions; acceptable nuisance.
* These endpoints address the three indicators identified as impaired for the St. Lawrence River at Massena AOC and include the five other indicators needing some further assessment as well as the three reevaluated as not impaired.
RAP Development and Status
As the lead agency for developing and implementing the St. Lawrence River at Massena RAP, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) began RAP development in 1988. This process was assisted by the formation of the Citizen Advisory Committee which consisted of members from industry, local government, environmental groups, sporting interests, academia, the Akwesasne and Massena communities, and local businesses. The Stage One report, which identifies use impairments, their causes and sources, was completed in 1990. The Stage Two RAP, completed in 1991, includes the development of remedial strategies to restore water quality and beneficial uses of the tributary rivers and the St. Lawrence River and to eliminate adverse impacts to the AOC from sources of pollutants at major hazardous waste sites as well as from other sources within the drainage basin and AOC.
Following completion of the Stage Two RAP, a Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC) was formed as a multi-stakeholder institutional structure (representatives from industry, environmental groups, government, academia, the Akwesasne and Massena communities, and private interests to assist NYSDEC in RAP implementation. To track implementation of the RAP, NYSDEC publishes periodic RAP update status reports to document strategies and remedial progress, and to make new commitments as needed to address the restoration and protection of beneficial uses. This 2006 report establishes a plan and course of actions to address resolution of the beneficial use indicators into 2007 and beyond. Recent efforts of the Remedial Advisory Committee have focused on the development of endpoints and a compilation and synthesis of monitoring information. The strategy to address each RAP indicator includes identifying supporting data and rationale to resolve impairments and establish beneficial uses are intact.
Significant RAP Milestones
- 2006: RAP Status Report [PDF 995Kb 133 pages] completed.
- 2005: ALCOA conducts large scale Grasse River dredging pilot project.
- 2004: General Motors conducts cove dredging and remediation.
- 2003: IJC Completes St. Lawrence River AOC Status Assessment [PDF 2.51Mb 17 pages]
- 2001: ALCOA (Reynolds site) large scale St. Lawrence River dredging.
- 2000: RAP Status Report Update completed.
- 1996: RAP Update Summary completed.
- 1995: General Motors conducts large scale St. Lawrence River dredging.
- 1995: Comprehensive St. Lawrence River RAP Update [PDF 622Kb 147 pages] completed.
- 1994: Joint Problem Statement (Stage One) document completed.
- 1992: RAP Update completed.
- 1992: Proceedings of St. Lawrence Joint Monitoring Workshop completed.
- 1991: Stage 2 RAP [PDF 2,014Kb 144 pages] document completed.
- 1990: Stage 1 RAP [PDF 4,747Kb 233 pages] document completed.
This January 2006 Status Report continues the summary update process with a modified format focused on resolving the beneficial use indicators and taking incremental steps towards delisting individual indicators with the goal of eventually delisting the entire AOC. What is needed to accomplish this is the compilation and synthesis of scientifically defensible monitoring data in conjunction with expert indicator assessment. This is to be the primary focus for RAP coordination over the next five years.
In moving ahead, high priority has been given to the cleanup of land-based hazardous waste sites and river sediments. Significant progress has been made in the completion of land-based remediation at the ALCOA West and East (formerly Reynolds Metals) sites and the General Motor site as well as with the contaminated river sediment removal in the St. Lawrence River. Point source discharges to the water and air have also been greatly reduced through pollution control and prevention measures.
We know that comprehensive environmental monitoring is needed and is essential to the reassessment of the use impairment indicators in the Area of Concern. In order to assure that the watershed and AOC itself are not contributing to impairments in the Area of Concern and that beneficial uses are restored and protected, the advisory committees for both the Massena and Cornwall RAPs, in conjunction with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Environmental Council, are sharing monitoring information as well as planning and implementation strategies, to address the beneficial use indicators for the AOC.
Recent progress and achievements
The RAP process strives to identify all remedial activity contributing to the goal to eliminate use impairments in the Area of Concern. This effort includes identifying a sequence of events needed to restore and to protect beneficial uses and then working to achieve and to expedite these activities. Concurrent with this RAP planning and implementation effort, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and other agency environmental program activities are in place and progressing as part of ongoing environmental programs, protection laws, and policies. The RAP seeks to influence and encourage these program activities to address local area, watershed, and ecosystem concerns involved with the RAP. In turn, these activities do contribute and support progress towards achieving the RAP goals. The progress, accomplishments, and specific needs of the Remedial Action Plan need to be communicated to all involved parties and stakeholders.
The RAP strategies developed in the following section, therefore, make use of all resource commitments and related remedial actions and provide an ecosystem approach for the remedial activities to restore and to protect beneficial uses. By communicating the RAP process, it is desired that remedial activities incorporate this ecosystem approach. One purpose of the Remedial Advisory Committee is to assure that all stakeholders' interests and concerns have been satisfactorily investigated and resolved as much as possible. A key to this is securing implementation commitments to achieve RAP objectives.
To facilitate reporting of remedial activity progress, the RAP subject matter is broken down into the eight major program area/remedial activity topics below. Brief summary descriptions of progress in these nine environmental program activity areas are provided. Additional details of the projects and past progress in each of these areas are also presented in the comprehensive St. Lawrence River at Massena RAP 1995 Update document.
Hazardous Waste Site Remediation (Land-Based)
U.S. EPA and NYSDEC have issued Administrative Orders that require land-based as well as contaminated river sediment remediation. Implementation of these orders is fundamental to Area of Concern rehabilitation and forms a basis for most initial remedial strategies. Completion and settlement of these remediation activities includes Natural Resource Damage Claims which are to address recovery for any damage and injury to the natural resources. Land-based remedial actions are required at each of the three large Massena area industrial sites. Significant progress has been accomplished at both the ALCOA and Reynolds Metals sites, and General Motors is also moving forward with its land-based remediation.
Contaminated River Sediments
Contaminated river sediment dredging projects are required by U.S. EPA enforcement orders at each of the ALCOA and GM sites. Except for the Grasse River, these projects have been completed or are in the end-phase of implementation. The Administrative Orders that require sediment removal work are designed so that there is no lapse of responsibility for the remediation of PCB contaminated areas along the Grasse River and into and including downstream portions of the St. Lawrence River. In other words, all major contaminated sediment areas are addressed under one of the three federal orders such that where one facility's investigative and remedial dredging responsibility ends, another facility's responsibility takes over. U.S. EPA has published a contaminated sediment management strategy.
To address the Grasse River, 12 remedial action alternatives were designed by a consultant. The EPA and ALCOA will determine the best final option that will ultimately lead to the development of a Record of Decision (ROD) that will state the remediation requirements to address the contamination. The decision on the Grasse River cleanup is complicated. A pilot study is to remove up to 75,000 cubic yards of material from the main channel and provide smaller nearshore (< 5 ft. depth) dredging and cap placement was implemented during the summer 2005. An ice-control structure is under consideration to prevent scour. Assessment of the project is to take place in 2006 with a final project proposal planned for 2007.
Point Source Discharge Control
Excessive nutrients (phosphorus) and sedimentation (erosion) from agriculture and land development are believed to be the main non-point source pollution problems in the St. Lawrence River Basin. County Water Quality Management Strategies have been developed to address non-point source pollution. Implementation of these County Water Quality Management Strategies and related Best Management Practices (BMPs), including improvements to stormwater management, is an ongoing activity. Various funding programs (grants) continue to support and the implementation of these non-point source pollution control efforts.
A significant reduction in the mass of PCBs and other contaminants discharged from the Massena area industries (primarily stormwater and site related) has been achieved by the installation of improved wastewater treatment systems, implementation of best management practices, and through interim/completed remediation activities. The permit renewal process involving the three major industrial companies has the goal of achieving non-detectable discharge levels of PCBs, as well as reduced discharges of other contaminants for each water discharge. Although PCBs are no longer used, past waste disposal practices contaminated the facility sites such that stormwater runoff discharges that remain present a major concern. With the overall site remediation work, requiring the cleanup of PCB contamination, nearly complete and with the additional treatment of point source discharges, it is expected that PCB contamination and related issues will be properly addressed.
The installation of point source discharge controls addresses both water and air pollution. For example, to reduce contaminants, Reynolds Metals (now Alcoa East) has installed new state-of-the-art air cleaning equipment and has rebuilt their aluminum reduction facility to increase operation efficiency. The concentration of PCBs in the wastewater discharges has improved to non-detectable levels in monitoring efforts. The cost of these facility upgrades, involving air and water treatment processes, has exceeded $250M in addition to the cleanup costs.
As a result, ALCOA has fully complied with water and air discharge standards. In addition, ALCOA has reduced water use dramatically while accomplishing the reduction of PCB discharges to non-detectable levels. New HDPE lined stormwater impoundments have been installed at ALCOA under its current point source SPDES (State Pollution Discharge Elimination System) discharge permit. At General Motors, the treatment of non-process wastewater and stormwater has also resulted in PCB level reductions to non-detectable levels.
Remedial measures implemented in the watershed contribute to the improvement of beneficial uses in the Area of Concern. For point source discharges, these activities include the regulation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) abatement actions addressing wet weather flows, and stormwater permit activities to regulate separate storm sewer systems and construction runoff.
Nonpoint Source Pollution Control
Excessive nutrients (phosphorus) and sedimentation (erosion) from agriculture are believed to be the main non-point source pollution problems in the St. Lawrence River Basin. County Water Quality Management Strategies have been developed to address non-point source pollution. Implementation of these County Water Quality Management Strategies and related Best Management Practices (BMPs), including improvements to stormwater management, is recommended and is progressing. Various funding programs now support the implementation of these non-point source pollution control efforts. Refer to the funding section herein.
NYSDEC Division of Water has developed nine guidance document sections for the Management Practices Catalogue for Nonpoint Source Pollution Prevention and Water Quality Protection in New York State. All of the nine parts of this Management Practices Catalogue have been finalized that deal with: stormwater runoff, agriculture, construction practices, roadway maintenance practices, on-site wastewater treatment systems, silviculture, spills, resource extraction, and hydrologic/habitat modification.
Implementation of the initiatives outlined in the Nonpoint Source Management Program includes many elements and is an ongoing effort of nonpoint source control. Local involvement is essential and Best Management Practices establish fundamental strategies. The cooperative agreements with county districts and the State Soil and Water Conservation Committees are key factors to implementation. Education and training are promoted by these organizations. For example, the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program goal is to support New York’s diverse agricultural community in its efforts to reduce NPS pollution while enhancing farm viability. Cost share funds are allocated to support farm efforts to protect water quality and natural resources. Like the RAP program, the AEM program is dynamic in that it surveys current activities, documents and identifies priorities, develops remedial measure plans, implements using education and technical assistance, and conducts evaluations to ensure protection.
Air Pollution Control
The remedial strategy calls for the reduction of hydrogen fluoride and other contaminant emissions from the major industrial facilities in the AOC. The National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Primary Aluminum Production requires air discharges to comply with emission limits which address hydrogen fluoride and polycyclic organic matter (POM) emissions.
At ALCOA, the main plant (west) is in general compliance with the NESHAP air discharge standards. Reynolds Metals (ALCOA east) installed a new fume control system that meets the NESHAP requirements. The ALCOA east facility has installed replacements for pot hoods designed for an improved capture of pollutants. When operated properly, the new fume control system and new pot hooding at Reynolds (Alcoa East) provides for meeting air discharge requirements. In the last five years, Alcoa East has been out of compliance 2 times resulting in fines. General Motors has installed rooftop thermal incinerators to destroy styrene and benzene VOCs.
EPA addresses emissions of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) from Secondary Aluminum Production Processes. ALCOA (west and east) and General Motors are to comply with emission limits for particulate, hydrogen chloride, total hydrocarbons, and dioxin/furans within 3 years of promulgation of a rule. The Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) of 1990 requires air discharges to comply with Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) limits. When further developed, NYS Air Standards may require treatment beyond MACT to be phased in over a period of time. New York State has put together a comprehensive program to improve air quality and to bring the State into compliance with the 1990 federal CAAA.
Fish and Wildlife Assessments/Actions
Several of the beneficial use indicators are based on fish and wildlife conditions and considerations. DEC has issued many special purposes licenses (scientific collectors) for use in the AOC. As a result, some fish and wildlife investigative information has been reported and yet many investigations remain unfunded. The conclusion from these studies needs to be shared with DEC and others. A collaborative team effort has formed among NYSDEC, Environment Canada, and the St. Regis at Mohawk Tribe to address the fish consumption restrictions, and any impairment to fish habitat and populations. Monitoring data is to be shared, strategies are to be developed, and resources combined to address the use impairments for the international AOC.
The relicensing of the power dam by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will assist in resolving fishing beneficial uses as impacted by the construction of the power dam and seaway. As part of the relicensing, money is planned to create a Future Habitat Improvement Fund and a Future Fisheries Management Fund as well as the rehabilitation of a boat launch at Hawkins Point. Impairments caused by the environmental contamination from the area industries affecting fish habitat, populations, and consumption are evaluated separately.
Results of fish and wildlife investigation, environmental monitoring and habitat restoration and protection activities in the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern are being generated as part of remedial actions. Deformity in wildlife, transboundary impact, and adequate population studies require data synthesis and expert evaluation. Habitat assessment also requires closer examination.
Health and Environmental Assessments/Actions
Three studies and the resulting report documents that evaluate human health risks and focus on the Akwesasne Mohawk population have been completed as well as the summary document published in January 1995. The reports conclude that the health risks to the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne from the consumption of PCB contaminated fish are greater than those of anglers on major New York State waterbodies. Mohawk risks are larger primarily because the average PCB levels in the St. Lawrence River fish are higher than those in fish from some of the other local waterbodies. Higher consumption rates of locally caught fish also contribute to higher risks. The results of the studies confirm the value of the health advisories for fish and wildlife consumption and call for the continuation of educational and outreach efforts until contaminant levels, particularly PCBs, decrease. Maintaining current contaminated fish consumption advisory information serves to reduce exposure of user groups, particularly young women having or intending to have children. Funding is needed for follow-up investigations. Other ongoing studies are being conducted by the "Superfund Basic Research Program" with the School of Public Health at the University at Albany.
Investigations and Monitoring Activities
As part of remediation activities, monitoring plans have been established for contaminated river sediment removal and land-based hazardous waste site projects. The development and implementation of these plans are subject to regulatory review and approval. The focus of these projects and environmental monitoring is to minimize the local and downstream impacts resulting from the remedial activities and to assure that compliance with cleanup criteria is achieved.
In addition to the remedial activity monitoring required of the industries addressing post-cleanup assessments, the RAP process requires monitoring and expert assessment based on established indicators and criteria for ecological and human health evaluation. Further, research on ecosystem health (viz. fish, wildlife, plankton, sediment, water quality, macroinvertebrates, etc.) is to assist in evaluating the status of the beneficial uses by the Remedial Advisory Committee members. This is to be coordinated with delisting criteria. The newly developed Table 3 "Monitoring Information and Report Sources" list the monitoring activities being conducted or planned for the St. Lawrence River at Massena Area of Concern. A wide range of monitoring activities is listed.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Relicensing Process
A new 50 year license was issued in October 2003 to the New York Power Authority (NYPA) for operation and maintenance of the St. Lawrence –FDR Power Project. Relicensing negotiations use a Cooperative Consultation Process (CCP) Team approach to involve the public, identify and scope environmental impact issues, respond to study requests, and draft the license application. This process was more involved than the normal six-step FERC process and commenced in 1996. The end result was a Comprehensive Relicensing Settlement Accord with five agreements to satisfy the majority of concerns. The five agreements are: 1) Fish Enhancement, Mitigation and Research Fund to provide 24 million to the USFWS for project impacts on aquatic resources such as the American Eel; 2) Ecological Mitigation and Enhancement Measures Settlement including ten habitat improvement projects, rehab of the Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area, and funds for habitat, research, and education; 3) Local Government Task Force Agreement addressing the return of project lands, shoreline stabilization, navigation hazards, and local recreation facilities; 4) funding for the St. Lawrence Aquarium and Ecological Center based on matching grant funds which were not secured; and, 5) Funding for the Robert Moses and Coles Creek State Park (Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Agreement) and annual payment to local governments (Community Enhancement Fund).
Current projects and outlook
For this Connecting Channel Area of Concern, an evaluation of the possible transboundary effects associated with the downstream interests and jurisdictions (including the Canadian, Provincial, and Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne) are to be addressed. As New York State has taken the lead to focus on the Massena area impairments, Canadian jurisdictions have taken responsibility for the Cornwall area and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has been in collaboration with each part of the AOC.
Further, delisting criteria, remedial strategies, and endpoints have been developed for each part of the AOC. These criteria, strategies, and endpoints are being applied to focus attention on priority remedial activities and to document progress as beneficial uses are restored and protected. The Remedial Action Plan process includes regular meetings of the committees and the recording of activities by status reporting. This process facilitates RAP implementation and documents the accomplishment of the incremental steps involving Stage 3 progress that is leading to the resolution of the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern.
Implementation of the St. Lawrence River RAP is a dynamic, continuous improvement process that has included periodic updates and improvements as knowledge of the use impairments, sources, and remedial action has progressed. Remedial activities, including physical construction, investigations, management plans, and public participation, have been evaluated and coordinated as to their impacts on the restoration of beneficial uses are identified. Within the Area of Concern, watershed, Lake Ontario, and reference communities, studies and assessment have been influenced and assisted in the RAP Process of identifying and acting on priorities. These activities include the Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP), the Lake Ontario PCB mass balance study (LOTOX), St. Lawrence River fish studies, the FERC licensing requirements, the IJC water levels study, hazardous waste site remediation, habitat restoration, and the operation of the power dam and St. Lawrence Seaway.
- 2006-2007: Health Advisories: Chemicals in Sportfish and Game New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH)
- 2004: 30 Year Trends in Water Quality of Rivers and Stream in NYS (PDF) (389pp, 14.7MB) NYSDEC.
- 1995-2006:The Great Lakes Research Review: This is a publication jointly produced by the Great Lakes Program of the University at Buffalo, the Great Lakes Research Consortium, and the New York Sea Grant Institute. The publication provides an outlet for information concerning important research being undertaken in the Great Lakes, particularly but not exclusively by researchers affiliated with the New York Great Lakes Research Consortium and its member institutions. It is designed to fill a gap between newsletter-type information and articles that are suited for technical journals. For more information contact: Great Lakes Program at SUNY Buffalo, 207 Jarvis Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260, 716-645-2088, or the Great Lakes Research Consortium at SUNY College of ESF, 24 Bray Hall, Syracuse, NY 13210, 315-470-6816.
- 1995: Human Health Considerations: The 1995 RAP Update (PDF) (147pp, 618K) document contains a number of descriptions of ongoing activities relative to human health evaluations. Health studies have been conducted in Akwesasne by SUNY Albany, New York State DOH and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). These human health studies use risk assessments that have some component of subsistence risk and/or cultural practices that reflect greater risk for area residents such as for the Mohawks at Akwesasne. Some of the health risk publications are identified in the reference list of this document. Endocrine Disruptors and Human Health Issues: Published articles have highlighted the known fact that some chemicals, such as PCBs and DDT, at sufficiently high levels, can disrupt the normal reproduction and sexual behavior of some organisms. The primary concern focuses on humans who consume contaminated Great Lakes fish and wildlife that could biomagnify these contaminants in their tissues to levels and pose potential health problems.
The following historical documents may also be available from one of the St. Lawrence River AOC Contacts
- S.J. Jackling and R.W. Karcher. August, 1994. Identification of and changes in chemical contaminant levels in young-of-the-year from New York's Great Lakes Basin: 1992. Tech. Report 94-4 (BEP), NYSDEC, Albany, NY. 44 pp.
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Technical Guidance for Screening Contaminated Sediments. July 1994. Division of Fish & Wildlife, Division of Marine Resources. 36 pp.
- Rotating Intensive Basin Studies. Water Quality Assessment Program 1991-92 Biennial Report. St. Lawrence River Basin. February 1994. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. pg. 115-141.
- Forti, A., K.G. Bogdan, and E Horn. 1994. Health risk assessment for the Akwesasne Mohawk population from exposure to chemical contaminants in fish and wildlife from the St. Lawrence River drainage on lands of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne and near the General Motors Corporation Central Foundry Division Facility at Massena, New York. NYSDOH. Technical Report. 25 pp.
- NYSDEC. 1993. Pollution Prevention Guidance for Local Governments.
- NYSDEC. 1993. Priority Water Problem List: summary and county listing documents.
- NYSDEC. 1992. New York State 25-Year Plan for the Great Lakes.
- NYSDEC. 1992. Reducing the impacts of stormwater runoff from new development. 178 pages.
- Skinner, L.C. 1992. Chemical contaminants in wildlife from the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne and the vicinity of the General Motors Corporation/Central Foundry Division Massena, New York plant. Tech. Rep. (BEP), Division of Fish and Wildlife, NYSDEC, Albany, NY. 112 pp.
- Longabucco, P. 1991. Controlling agricultural nonpoint source water pollution in New York State: a guide to the selection of best management practices to improve and protect water quality. NYSDEC, Albany, N.Y. 169 pp.
- Sloan, R.J., and K. Jock. 1990. Chemical contaminants in fish from the St. Lawrence River drainage on lands of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne and near the General Motors Corporation/Central Foundry Division Massena, New York plant. Tech. Rep. 90-1(BEP), Division of Fish and Wildlife, NYSDEC, Albany, NY. 96 pp.
- NYSDEC. 1990. Nonpoint Source Management Program.
- NYSDEC. Management Practices Catalogue for nonpoint source pollution prevention and water quality protection in New York State: a nine section document of best management practice categories.
- The brochure entitled, RAPs in Action, was developed to augment the message of the New York Sate RAP Display. The brochure provides more detailed information on remedial activities in New York State's RAP Areas of Concern.
- A promotional brochure entitled, Getting the Word Out, was also developed to provide a description of public outreach and educational materials (audiovisuals, brochures, fact sheets, etc.) produced by and/or for the RAPs or the Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP).
- The River Rap was an annual newsletter dedicated to increasing awareness about water quality and RAP issues in the St. Lawrence River at Massena AOC. To keep people informed, the River Rap articles addressed the plans and progress of remedial activities, local economic development projects and stewardship initiatives.
Over the years, the Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC) conducted monthly, and later quarterly, meetings on RAP implementation. The committee has consisted of a diverse and multi-stakeholder representation with the task of identifying needed studies and remedial actions, seeking implementation, and then affecting these activities in the watershed and AOC. Reporting on progress and communicating this information to the public has been an objective of the committee. Recent efforts have started to identify the endpoints to address the use impairments. Because of the remedial activities, certain point and nonpoint sources of contamination have been greatly mitigated or eliminated; however, certain land and contaminated sediments continues to impact the environment and health.
Regular meetings of the Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC) throughout the implementation of the Stage 2, and documentation of the Stage 3, Remedial Action Plan process have continued to keep stakeholders informed of remedial activities and progress while maintaining a forum for local concerns to be heard, responded to, and addressed. Field trips are used to learn more about the specifics of remedial activities. These are coordinated with current implementation activities and committee interests. An informational video describing the Massena Area of Concern has been prepared to increase public awareness about the restoration and protection activities and the needs of this important geographic area. A newsletter, promotional brochure, and RAP display are other examples of outreach activities that have been incorporated into the public participation activities involving the Massena AOC.
More current collaboration with the Cornwall RAP and St. Regis Mohawk Tribe representatives has established a strategy to address the delisting concerns for each of the indicators for the AOC on an international basis. The Remedial Advisory Committee continues to provide advice and consultation to the St. Lawrence River at Massena RAP process. Please contact the persons identified at the end of this report for the availability of past and more recent RAP public involvement information.
EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office grant funding for RAP coordination and research project funding was unsuccessful for the Massena RAP in the 2005 grant year. RAC members are making plans for a strong showing in 2006. Unfortunately, the St. Lawrence Aquarium and Ecological Center (SLAEC) closed. In following up, Clarkson University, the St. Lawrence County Soil & Water Conservation District (SLC-SWCD), an area public education organization (the St. Lawrence Discovery Center), St. Lawrence County Planning Office, and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Environmental Division are planning to coordinate roles for leadership. Affected jurisdictions and communities include New York State, Ontario Province, the Mohawk Tribe, and local government.
Overall, added resources and greater efforts towards public participation and outreach are needed and needs to be identified as a recommendation. Also, the final results of the IJC water levels study may have some bearing on the RAP and next step for implementation."
The Massena Remedial Advisory Committee continues to advise NYSDEC during the implementation of Remedial Action Plan recommendations. The committee meets quarterly with citizens, area stakeholders, and DEC staff to discuss RAP-related issues and activities. The meetings also provide an opportunity for the committee to address local concerns as related to remedial activities being implemented in the AOC. Field trips to learn more about ongoing remedial activities at Massena's local industries are often conducted in conjunction with the committee meetings. NYSDEC and the Massena Remedial Advisory Committee continue the commitment to public participation and public outreach for the St. Lawrence River at Massena RAP.
If you would like to receive Remedial Advisory Committee meeting minutes, newsletters, announcements, and updated reports about the Massena RAP, please send your name, address and specific request to: Steve Litwhiler, Citizen Participation Specialist, State Office Building, Watertown, NY 13601; contact by phone at (315) 785-2238.
Other community involvement tools include:
Video and Slide Show
A video has been produced from the Massena RAP slide show. The purposes of the video are to provide information about the St. Lawrence River at Massena AOC, local industries and the cultural diversity of the area and also, to increase public awareness and involvement in the Massena RAP. The video is approximately 25 minutes in length and is suitable for community groups, high school classes and other interested organizations and individuals that want to learn more about the Massena RAP and how to get involved.
New York State RAP Display
NYSDEC Citizen Participation Staff produced a New York state RAP display. The purpose of the exhibit is to introduce the public to RAPs in New York State and to illustrate what actions are needed and are currently underway to effectively clean up New York's RAP Areas of Concern. The display continues to be used at Great Lakes and RAP functions across the basin. A brochure, entitled RAPs in Action, has been developed to augment the message of the exhibit. The brochure provides more detailed information on remedial activities that are being implemented to restore and to protect beneficial uses in New York State's RAP Areas of Concern.
The St. Lawrence River at Massena and Cornwall RAP advisory committees keep informed of the remedial activities occurring in each of their respective portions of the entire international AOC. Committee meetings, on both sides of the river, are regularly attended by representatives from each others’ RAP advisory committee. Members of both RAP advisory committees look forward to co-sponsoring RAP events in the future.