Monday is the deadline for public comments on the cleanup status of the Ithaca Falls Overlook.
New York State says “No Further Action” is needed. The Overlook is just one part of the area that was contaminated with lead from the former Ithaca Gun Factory.
A status of “No Further Action” means the state Department of Environmental Conservation will do periodic inspections and maintenance of the Overlook, but active soil excavation is finished unless future screenings show elevated contamination.
“There is ongoing involvement by the Department with the City [of Ithaca] in their work at the site,” said Gary Priscott, project manager with the DEC. “But the health exposures and protection of the environment have been taken care of.”
Priscott said people can use the Overlook for recreation.
Environmental advocate Walter Hang of the firm Toxics Targeting said way more needs to be done.
“There’s no question that this site remains polluted,” Hang said. “I don’t believe that New York State should be allowed to issue a ‘No Further Action’ designation for this site because it’s such a popular visiting area.”
Hang said because the Overlook is just one part of a much bigger area, the entire site needs a comprehensive cleanup. That would include the Fall Creek Gorge, which is below the Overlook.
Hang is asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to call the entire area a priority Superfund site; he said the state doesn’t have the money to do a top-to-bottom cleanup.
The DEC is still working on the factory site, which is connected to the Overlook. Cleanup of the gorge, meanwhile, is under EPA jurisdiction.
“In the end, the entire site that has remnant contaminants from Ithaca Gun will be taken care of,” said Priscott.