NIAGARA FALLS, NY – A top official of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation visited the Niagara Falls Waste Water Treatment Plant on Wednesday, as part of an ongoing probe by the DEC into two recent sewage discharges near the world famous Falls.
While here, DEC Executive Deputy Commissioner Ken Lynch also fielded questions from reporters.
However, Lynch did not shed much light on, or reveal much new information about the investigations to the public.
One of the incidents occurred on Tuesday, and involved the discharge of 2.8 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Niagara River, due to what the Niagara Falls Water Board describes as an overflow caused by heavy rains. It is something which occurs on occasion during downpours, according to the Water Board.
The other incident, of course, was the more infamous discharge of waste water on July 29, that turned part of the lower river black before thousands of visitors on a sunny Saturday at the height of the tourist season.
About the only new thing revealed by Lynch was that the DEC ordered the Water Board to make a full accounting of its actions during and following that incident, and that its report is due back to the DEC on September 1.
“There’s certainly concern from the public, which in turn we have concerns about, and we want to make sure the public is protected and this great natural resource is protected. That’s why we’re fully investigating,” said Lynch.
In its limited comments since the July 29 incident, the Water Board has said it believes it was either a mechanical malfunction or operator error which caused the discharge of carbon-based black contaminants into the river, which environmental officials have stated caused no harm to humans or wildlife.
Asked if that was his belief as well, Lynch only replied: “I’m not going to make any conclusions until we fully investigate.”
He also gave no timetable for the completion of either investigation.
Lynch also told WGRZ-TV that he felt the Water Board had been “fully cooperative” with the DEC in its ongoing investigations.