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NY Senators: No Handout for Handout on Polluted Lake

Onondaga Lake (Photo by Boris Volodnikov) New York senators have sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking it not to spend $120,000 in stimulus money on a 16-page color pamphlet on the state of Onondaga Lake.

The letter from Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand was in response to an article published Sunday in The Post-Standard of Syracuse. The newspaper reported that while the senators trumpeted the lake initiative as an infrastructure project that would create jobs, the money would actually go to update an eight-year-old status report on the lake's cleanup. (See the project description on Page 5.)

The lake was once a spiritual site for the Onondaga Indians and was a resort in the 19th century, but industrial development turned it into "a toxic stew of mercury, ammonia, phosphorous, PCBs, benzene, cyanide and other pollutants," the Associated Press says. The lake became a Superfund site in 1994.

Since then, 38,000 pounds of chlorobenzene have been removed from wells. And the Upstate Freshwater Institute, which has been monitoring the lake, reported in November 2007 that oxygen levels were returning to normal.

Schumer and Gillibrand said the money should be used for jobs related to the cleanup. "We've done enough studies. Now it is time for action," Schumer said on Tuesday, according to the AP.

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