|The Dragon and the Ice Castle
Rediscovery of Sacred Space in the Finger Lakes
Part One: Chapter Eight
Wednesday, February 3, 1988
I woke up hungry. For two days I'd been unable to chew and digest my food well. At 10am I was at my dentist reading a magazine when a young mother entered, one child in her arms, another at her side, followed by her mother—three generations. She placed her child on a chair beside me, removed his coat and went to the other corner with her mother and daughter.
I looked at my neighbor. A wave of physical reaction swept me as I saw a deformed three year old. Half of his face was twisted under a swollen cranium. One eye was twisted, the other swollen nearly shut. His mouth sagged on one side, one ear a misshapen clump. His fingers were but knobs on his palms.
After a quick glance I returned to my magazine to calm my emotions and reflect. Soon I turned to the child again. He turned to stare in my eyes. For brief moments our eyes met and we peered into each other's souls. Silently my heart reached out to this tiny being. I saw in his eyes he was well cared for and he had a cheerful, secure attitude about life. I congratulated him on his good family and sent a silent blessing for continued happiness.
And I made a promise to do my best to see that children in the future wouldn't face what lay ahead of him. I promised to do my best to remove the transformers from Marley's. This was no mere thought—it was a physical sensation in my body.
Returning to my magazine, I wondered how this experience came into my path at this moment. I took it as guidance to point out clearly what was at stake at Marley's and why I had to persist against the odds. The print on the page blurred through tears as my mind prayed for strength and guidance.
My turn came to see the dentist. After a few minutes in the chair my new crowns were filed to align my bite. Clicking my teeth I felt I could chew again. My involuntary fast could end.
At noon, Joe Parson came for his appointment. As we sat to eat lunch I told what I had found at Marley's on Sunday. Joe looked at me aghast, exclaiming, "PCBs! How terrible! They're so foul EPA banned them a decade ago! You're certain?"
I shared his sense of horror. "Not completely, but reasonably. From how they are buried they probably have PCBs in them. Which opens the question: what else was done at Marley's?"
"Harry Marley was a businessman and lawyer," Joe began, "a pillar of the Jewish community. Served eight years on the Board of Education, including two as President. He was active in the Interreligious Council and SU football. He's got to be 80 now. He married Abe Cooper's daughter and became vice president of Cooper Industries. During World War Two, Cooper made lots of money from metal recycling. In the 50's, Marley bought the scrap yard. His daughter married Sam Newhouse's son, who owns both Syracuse daily papers. I'm shocked to think of something so dangerous done right by Onondaga Lake."
"I believe the transformers are there. It was done years ago—maybe in ignorance more than arrogance or avarice."
"They have to remove them, don't they?" Joe asked.
"I don't see any way not to," I replied. "I promised to do whatever's necessary to get those toxic beasts dug up. I know little about PCBs, but it seems they're pretty deadly."
I described my own experience with PCBs. "I grew up on Meadowbrook Drive. One block from my boyhood home is a park which has the highest level of PCBs ever found in upstate NY. The site is now fenced off and no one is allowed on it."
"I know the place," Joe said. "I live near there."
I told him my encounter. "I was walking to Colvin Street intending to cross the park. I noticed a sheriff’s car on Meadowbrook. I thought it odd for a county sheriff to stake out a city street. Then I saw yellow tape around the site. The deputy explained the site was restricted due to contaminated soil. I had to walk all the way around the pond to get to Colvin. Later the tape was replaced with an orange fence and signs warning about toxic chemicals. The site is right by the creek."
"Right," said Joe. "There were neighborhood meetings to explain the situation. When they put in the pond they hauled in soil excavated along Ley Creek where a factory had dumped PCBs in the creek. The soil was loaded with PCBs. They closed several county parks which had fill from the same dumpsite."
"Yes, Ley Creek runs into Onondaga Lake right by Marley's," I explained. "I walked along the creek Sunday."
"I had a fright with PCBs," Joe told me. "My office was in 500 South Salina Street. A few years ago a transformer insulated with PCBs caught fire and smoke got into the building. Everyone was evacuated and it was days before they had the place clean. They closed the building for days while it was decontaminated."
"I remember that," I said. "Made quite a news story. The Fire Department was upset firemen were endangered by toxic smoke from burning transformer oil. When they first arrived at the scene they had no idea how poisonous the smoke was. I guess it's now standard procedure to use respirators."
Joe recalled the event, "Firemen were upset they walked into a toxic blaze without warning. I guess even smoke from burning PCBs on your skin is dangerous, much less breathing the stuff."
I added, "Later the Fire Dept. set up a toxic hotline. Niagara Mohawk Power Co. located all transformers with PCBs. Now they check the hotline to learn if toxic chemicals are involved."
Joe looked at me deeply a moment. "So what's this to you?"
"I decided to get the transformers removed. I'm meeting Bruce Kenan tomorrow to present this information to him. Then I'll hold a press conference."
Joe's sharp look bored into me, "You trying to be a martyr?"
I shook my head vigorously, "No, not at all," I protested. "For years people tried to pin that label on me because I tackled impossible efforts like organizing organic farmers and lobbying for state food policy. But I duck being pigeonholed in that box. Besides, you know why they killed Christ, don't you?"
After a moment's pause he said, "No, I think not. Tell me."
I chuckled at his easy surrender, "Not because he said he was the Son of God. There were always kooks with oddball claims. No, they killed him because he drove the money changers out of the Temple. Then they had to get rid of him."
Joe didn't react personally, but nodded, "You may be right.”
"My protection is I'm not against the mall. I refuse a position of opposition. If they want to build a mall to make lots of money, that's fine with me. Money is not my thing, but I don't stand in the way of their ambition. Instead, I'm afraid they underestimate the situation and I'm here avert a disaster."
Joe looked at me thoughtfully and said, "I suppose if you don't act like an enemy, they might be more inclined to listen."
"I hope so" I said, trying to sound convinced. "It protects me from possible attack. In any case, I'm the only one free to act. Other people have jobs, reputations and family to protect. Or axes to grind in a battle I have no such attachments to defend so I'm free to step in to get the transformers removed. But I've got nothing to gain either. Maybe Pyramid will reward me but I can't expect that. More likely they won't believe me."
Joe smiled, "You'll certainly give them something to wonder about. Seems they could turn this to their advantage by agreeing to go to Marley's with you. If you're wrong and there are no transformers, then you're a kook, and they look good for being cautious. If you're right, then they're heroes."
I shook my head, "I wish it was so simple. Unfortunately I think other transformers are buried under Marley's. Besides, it would be bad press for their mall and put a dark cloud over it."
That afternoon Bill Rosbrook came for his appointment. I put hot compresses on his hips until his skin was bright red as blood rushed into the dilated vessels. Then I rubbed ginger oil in his skin, and probed with fingers to release tension locked in the acupressure points in his hips and legs. Our time together was charged with emotion. We both faced major decisions the next day. While I met with Bruce Kenan, Bill would meet with his doctor. Bill had procrastinated major surgery for 20 years. The doctor wanted to replace both hips. due to extensive deterioration of his bones. Bill had to decide whether to procrastinate another year or have surgery.
I handed him a press release, "Thanks for getting me a meeting. I really prefer to meet him before my press conference. Here's a press release for him to read tonight."
I showed Bill my Right Actions. He was kind not to laugh as he read but he must have he found them outrageous. I'd taught Bill to dowse the previous fall and he took to it easy. But even if he had solid faith in dowsing he had to doubt how I learned so much in one week. And had the audacity to call for immediate actions. I knew my demands and timetables were unrealistic. I stated my points for emphasis, not realism.
"What's it going to do for you to get involved in this? Won't this be a lot of grief with no payoff," Bill challenged me.
I didn't reply right away. I simply said, "I can look back and know I did the right thing. And I know this is the right thing."
Bill was emphatic, "You're a hopeless idealist! These guys will get what they want. You won't get a second notice. But Bruce is a true gentleman, and will give you a respectful hearing."
I laughed deeply, "You're right about me. But there's no other choice if I have a sincere concern for life and the Earth. But enough of me, let's talk about your decision." We spent the rest of our time talking about his condition. I confessed natural healing offered little to relieve his disability.
My last client that day was was Walter English, an insurance agent who had recently begun eating a macrobiotic diet. As I worked on his tight body, I told him my tale of the transformers. As I was explaining about my meeting the next morning, he suddenly asked, "Who did you pick as your witness?"
"Joan Christensen of the Syracuse Common Council."
Walt roared again, "Oh, great! Big mistake! Show Pyramid a politician and all they do is look for the price tag."
My apologetic tone exposed my doubt. "Joan isn't my first choice, but I trust her for the role. I know she's tied to Falcone of Pioneer Development, Congel's former partner. But try to find anyone in town who isn't for, against or affected by this project. More for intuitions than ideas, I think Joan is right."
Walt was relentless, "You're naive. Pyramid is under inquiry by a New York State Ethics Commission for buying the Poughkeepsie Town Council. Seems Pyramid wanted to build a mall there but the Council voted 5-4 against it. Next election saw new Republicans elected to the Council which then voted 6-3 to allow construction. The Commission claims Pyramid spent $350,000 to assure election of their candidates. The Commission is upset one company can buy an election."
I was silent so Walt continued, "Actually Pyramid went further. I was at a party recently where I heard one Pyramid principal brag they didn't spend $350,000, we poured over $1 million into that election. We'll recover the expense in our first year.' You should have seen the money they blew on this party. Huge jumbo shrimp, Maine lobsters flown in fresh. There were loads of leftovers, which just got dumped. You're up against some big bucks here, Yarrow."
"This is Pyramid's hometown," I said. "They have friends all over town. It'll be easy for them to finger who they choose."
"Right," Walt agreed. "For Carousel Center, Pyramid will go to any length. This is Congel's greatest ambition—his legacy to the City. If they get the mall up and open, it will succeed."
"You're probably right," I said with sadness. "All I can say is I believe I'm doing the right thing. I'm taking this on faith, not power or cleverness.
Walter left and soon a Palestinian woman came for me to take on her first macrobiotic shopping trip. We drove south down Salina St. to the Onondaga Nation entrance to I-81. As we crossed the Nation border I told this Middle East refugee about the last surviving government of American natives.
At one point I glanced over at her. She was looking at me with an intense expression, absorbing each sentence with great interest in this idea of a nation of people forced from their homelands by invaders. She said little but I sensed my story aroused a deep passion in her. With her as my audience my insight deepened into the moral and spiritual dilemma of the continued presence of Onondaga Nation in modern America.
That evening I'd planned to have my landlords for dinner. This was no social event. My purpose was to discuss how to buy their house. But Scott called early in the week to say he couldn't make dinner. That afternoon John Laird, my other landlord, called about dinner. I said I'd stop by to pay rent and visit.
I made it to John's late in the evening. For a while we talked about the house. I began to tell my tale of the transformers and my meeting the next morning. My eyes fell on an evening paper page one headline: Pyramid Target of State Ethics Probe. An article described the situation in Poughkeepsie. Skimming I noticed one discrepancy. The paper reported Pyramid spent $777,000 on campaigns for Town Council.
I showed John the article and told him what I knew. He was acutely interested and I was silent while he read the print. Then I returned to my tale of the Indian village and PCBs.
Suddenly, John looked at me oddly and burst out, "David, you won't believe this, but I just applied for a job at Pyramid."
My jaw went slack as I gaped at myoId friend and landlord. "Oh no! My own landlord will be on one side of the fence in this shopping mall war. And the person I hoped would help buy the house is on the other. This is what I call being in the middle."
|The Dragon and the Ice Castle
Rediscovery of Sacred Space in the Finger Lakes
144 pages, 8.5 x 11 soft cover
available from Turtle EyeLand
He smiled sheepishly, "I didn't get a job yet. I've mixed feelings about it. These guys are in business for money, and do things I don't approve of. Working in housing rehab for the county I'm doing a community service while making a living."
I replied, "There are good and bad choices where ever you are. Sure, there may be uncomfortable choices at Pyramid while the county job seems morally safe. But life is an adventure. Where ever you go there are hard choices and tempting compromises."
"I suppose you're right," John said hesitantly. "But some jobs offer fewer compromises than others. Morally I'm safe working for the county. Pyramid is tight and aggressive. A job there will require me to exploit situations for the company's benefit."
I nodded, saying with a short laugh, "True, but think of them as opportunities to test and build your character."
John replied, "I'm quite happy with my character as it is now."
PYRAMID'S CAROUSBL CENTER WILL BB BUILT ON A TOXIC SWAMP
prepared by: David Yarrow
February 4, 1988
Pyramid Co. developers are about to construct their Carousel Center shopping mall on top of a stagnant pool of underground water. The entire site proposed for the mall is underlain by a body of water whose top surface lies 10 feet below the soil surface, and extends up to 21 feet deep. The several thousand gallons of water contained in this subsurface reservoir is undoubtedly contaminated with several toxic chemicals, including petrochemicals such as benzene, toluene and PCBs.
If built as planned, the Carousel Center mall will likely destabilize this underground toxic swamp, releasing its poisoned water into the Barge Canal and Onondaga Lake. Contaminated water and fumes will likely also seep upwards into the mall itself, posing health risks for workers and shoppers in the mall.
THE UNDERGROUND POND
The primary evidence for the existence of this subsurface water pond is Pyramid's own Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). At Pyramid's direction, 21 trenches were dug on the site to a maximum depth of 21 feet. Eleven of these trenches were dug under the direction of an archaeologist in an attempt to locate a lost Onondaga Indian village believed buried under the site. The other ten trenches were dug by Pyramid's consultants to obtain soil horizon profiles as part of the engineering study of the site.
The EIS fails to provide complete data on all 21 trenches. But of fifteen trenches, fourteen filled in with water which rose to a depth from 9 to 16 feet of the soil surface. Eight of the trenches were reported to fill with water to within twelve feet of the soil surface, and four report a water table at fifteen feet. Appendix A contains all available soil profiles from the Pyramid EIS. The archaeologist's report contains specific comment on the rapid rate with which water invaded the trenches, impairing the sampling and photography work.
What is this water? Where does it come from? Is it moving or stagnant? Why is it consistently present in all but one trench? Why is it so close to the surface? Why is the ground so saturated with water that it invades the trenches so rapidly? These questions are not even raised, much less answered by the Pyramid EIS. The presence of this water under the site is perhaps the single most important facet of the site's environment, yet the Pyramid EIS fails to address its existence at all.
It is no fiction, fancy or mystery that this water is there. Data in Pyramid's EIS show it is there. Historical maps contained in Pyramid's EIS clearly depict how this water became trapped under the site. This history is summarized in Appendix B.
THE PRESENCE OF TOXICS
The presence of this subsurface water body is, in itself, not alarming. Pyramid has built malls on swamps; Fayetteville Mall is built on a swamp. What is alarming is that for at least 50 years potentially toxic heavy metals and petrochemicals have leached into this large body of water where they accumulated and concentrated.
Here again, Pyramid's EIS fails to address the obvious issues pointed out by its own data. Groundwater samples taken September 14 and December 4, 1987 from eleven wells bored on the site clearly show significant and consistent presence of benzene, toluene, phenol, trichloroethylene, tricholoroethane. Data also show high levels of iron, zinc and copper. Yet the EIS Summary offers only one sentence: "There are no significant contamination problems." No mention is made of these obvious unnatural contaminants, no discussion explains their presence, no analysis evaluates their impact.
I visited the site twice in recent days to conduct my own inspection.
There can be no doubt that toxics are present on the site. I plainly saw extensive evidence of surface water contamination by oily substances, and this tainted water was trickling off the site towards the Barge Canal. In the northwest corner are numerous piles of metal shavings, grindings and cuttings saturated with oil. One of these piles was seen smoking. oil from these piles has saturated the soil and collected in water puddles, rendering them sickly shades of red, yellow, white and green. Color photographs in Appendix C document this situation. I collected water samples from these puddles.
No mention of this was made in Pyramid's EIS. In fact, in the twelve days between my two visits, this problem had increased and worsened, not decreased.
These problems are significant, and must be addressed before constructing a multi-million dollar mall to be visited by hundreds of thousands of shoppers.
Another dimension to this toxic situation involves probable migration of petrochemical fuels from Oil City down the original Onondaga Creek streambed. Oil City area also is underlain by turn of the century Solvay wastes.
I have been told rumors about illegal dumping and burials on the site. In the last 20 years, experiences with "midnight" dumping points out the danger of this is real. Taken with known data and observations of Marley's site, and the marshland immediately northeast of it, is sufficient warning that the site needs more careful study, and the situation needs more complete explanation.
NO POLLUTION SOLUTIONS
Pyramid's EIS claims "analysis do not indicate any significant volatile organics, semi-volatile organics, pesticides, or metals on site that would
cause concern by distribution in fill/soil or potential for leaking into
groundwater. Development would cap the Site with relatively impermeable
barriers in the way of building structures and paved surfaces, and seal off any potential exposure to chemicals present. The cap would prevent infiltration into the fill from the surface and would limit the principal migratory driving force." The EIS concludes that "capping the site is advisable and appropriate and will result in an overall net benefit compared with existing conditions."
No intelligent explanation or engineering proof is offered that Pyramid's asphalt cap will safely seal off any problems. The EIS fails to even recognize the existence of the tainted water pool. My own inspection of the site and study of Pyramid's EIS destroyed my belief in such a solution. Rather, Carousel Center is more likely to destabilize the water pond presently held under the site. Several hundred tons of asphalt, equipment, structures and inventory on the site will likely compress the soft spongy fill and squeeze stagnant water up into the mall and out into surrounding soil, most likely to the west into the Barge Canal, and then into Onondaga Lake.
LET'S CLEAN UP THE MESS AND DO IT RIGHT FOR A CHANGE
Water is a sacred trust. In 1784 the Onondaga Nation and the State of New York signed the Salt Treaty. This Treaty granted a gift of land which allowed the salt industry to become established on the shores of Onondaga Lake, and gave birth to Syracuse. NYS still pays the Onondaga Nation several tons of salt every year in payment for this lease. The geographic center of the land leased to New York in this Salt Treaty was fixed where the mouth of Onondaga Creek emptied into Onondaga Lake, a point now buried under 30 to 50 feet of fill at the north edge of Marley's scrap yard. This has great historic significance.
In the 1790's a Seneca Indian named Handsome Lake appeared among the now destitute and largely landless Iroquois Indians. He traveled spreading a Good News. Handsome Lake's Good News contained a prophecy about the future:
"There will come a time when the good water that we use to cook our food, cook our medicines, and clean our bodies will not be fit to drink... and the waters will turn oily and burn... the cool waters that we use to refresh ourselves will warm and heat up... our misuse of this water will turn it against us and people will suffer and die..."
Handsome Lake, Seneca Prophet, 1799
I called this press conference because my inspection of Marley's scrap metal yard and Pyramid's EIS raises very real concerns that this prophecy of Handsome Lake is about to become true. It is clear the situation contains serious potential for several dangerous threats to water quality and public health. I cannot prove there is danger. I am a private citizen and lack the resources, time and skills. But I see enough to believe proof is required, and so far Pyramid has not addressed the key issue: the existence of a toxic swamp ten feet below ground at Marley's.
Building a mall between Interstate 81 and Hiawatha Boulevard may be a good idea. Building it on a toxic swamp is not. I will be asking all relevant public officials to study the facts I have collected, and to halt Pyramid's rush into disaster. until more careful study demonstrates how this project can proceed without endangering the future workers and shoppers at the Carousel Center Mall, or contributing to further contaminating Onondaga Lake. I don't want reassurances, I want an engineering plan based on reality.
It is my profound belief that there is more than a toxic swamp buried under Marley's scrap yard. It is my deep faith that tremendous wealth lies waiting to be unearthed there. I insist it is time for all the facts of the situation to come to the surface, before the water itself begins to rise. I trust everyone involved can look beneath the dark, murky waters and see the path that leads to a bright, clean and healthy future for central New York.
that the site lies emptied into shallow basin
(Note: soil profile graphs have been deleted from the book.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TOXIC SWAMP
illustrated by maps from the Pyramid EIS
These ten soil horizon profiles are taken from Pyramid's EIS. Of 21 trenches dug, profiles are given for only these ten. All of them show a water table standing at 9-16 feet. It is important to notice the depth at which Solvay waste was encountered, since it forms the water holding barrier under the swamp. Also notice that only one trench encountered what might be original soils.
Data for another 5 trenches was found in the written report of the archaeologist. Of these, four of them are reported with standing water at 9¬15 feet. Three encountered Solvay waste at 21 feet; one encountered no Solvay waste. None of them reached original soils.
This information clearly shows the presence of a standing pool of water
perched on top of the impermeable Solvay wastes, which are probably 10-25 feet thick in most places. This water pool is 6-10 feet deep and probably stagnant under the entire site. There is insufficient information to calculate the actual volume of water present. Further trenches are required to determine the boundaries and therefore the surface area of this water pool.
The Pyramid EIS makes no comment on the presence of this pool of water, offers no intelligent explanation for its origin, nor any hint of an engineering plan for its containment or removal. No effort was made to determine if this pool is moving or stagnant.
It is significant that what may be original soils were found only in one trench: 16 by the archaeologist. There is additional evidence that this trench is closest to the Onondaga Indian village.
Test wells were bored at 11 places around the site. Data was reported on chemical analysis of these, but no first level evaluation of the results of this sampling is included in the EIS. The comments of the field engineer are critical to a clear picture of the groundwater situation, yet they are left out of the EIS. The raw data which is presented clearly show consistent presence of iron, benzene and toluene, regular presence of trichloroethane and trichloroethylene, and some occurrence of phenol, copper and zinc. One well turned up with PCBs.
PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF SOIL AND WATER CONTAMINATION
taken January 31, 1988
(Note: photos have been deleted from the book. Ed.)
The oldest map (map 3, EIS), dated 1797, clearly shows directly above where the original channel of Onondaga Creek Onondaga Lake. Thus, the old Onondaga Creek valley forms a sited beneath the proposed mall.
By 1889 (map 8, EIS), the New York Central railroad had constructed an embankment for their main east-west tracks directly across the north end of this original creek bed. This railroad bed forms a dam at the lowest end of the stream channel before it enter the lake. Land south of the railroad embankment became marsh. In successive years, the railroad bed was widened for more tracks; one map shows a railroad bed wide enough to accommodate eleven tracks; presently there are three Conrail tracks. This darn still impounds water under the site, preventing its escape north into Onondaga Lake.
By 1893 (maps 11 & 12, EIS), Onondaga Creek was straightened and diverted from its original channel to enter Onondaga Lake several hundred feet to the west. This man-made channel resulted in abandonment of the original streambed, which became marshland.
By 1910 (map 13, EIS), Solvay Process wastes were piped onto the site as liquid slurry and sludge. This mineral waste set and hardened into dense, clay like material which is impervious to water. Thus, these Solvay wastes form a water holding lining under the entire site which is perhaps five to 20 feet thick.
There are now present the three elements which today create the toxic swamp under the mall site: 1) shallow abandoned stream basin with 2) a high and wide dam across its low end and 3) an impermeable lining underneath. In fact, maps 16 (1939) and 17 (1942) even show a pond at the mall site, and the EIS makes reference to the pond's historical existence. So there can be no doubt about the site's ability to hold water. This prepares the bed for the fourth and fifth stages of the toxic swamp.
Since 1939 tremendous amounts of soft fill (mostly fine to coarse textured sands and sandy loams) were dumped on top of the Solvay wastes. Today this fill stands 20-21 feet above the bottom layer of turn of the century Solvay wastes, as shown by the EIS soil profiles. This fill material is very soft and porous, and is able to absorb and hold water like a sponge.
More recently Marley's scrap metal yard was located atop all this fill in the former Onondaga Creek basin, and toxic chemicals began to leach down through the soft, porous fill and accumulate in the water pond beneath the site.
Most recently, Oil City was located south of Marley's, mostly on the other side of Hiawatha Boulevard. These petrochemical storage tanks are located upstream from the water impounded beneath Marley's, and are also underlain by a deep layer of impermeable Solvay wastes. The possibility that leakage from Oil City is migrating through the fill above the old Solvay wastes is real and serious, and may be contributing to the accumulation of toxic chemicals in stagnant water under Marley's. The Pyramid EIS contains no analysis or discussion of this possibility.
On January 31, I found serious and plainly visible contamination of the soil and water by oily industrial fluids. No effort was being made to contain or hide this regrettable situation. I took these color photos and two water samples.
The northwest corner of Marley's scrap yard contains numerous piles six to fifteen feet high of metal millings such as these. From their dull rusty red color, it was apparent most of the piles were older. However, many of them are still shiny and gray, and have obviously been dumped on the site in recent weeks.
These piles seem to be saturated with oily substances which was free to leach into the soil and thence into the underground water table. On January 24 one pile was seen smoking.
Between my first visit on January 24 and the second on January 31 many new piles had been dumped, and what had been a small problem had multiplied into a critical situation endangering the Barge Canal and Onondaga Lake.
Several large puddles of water had collected around the base of the newer piles. This water was heavily contaminated with oily fluids leaching from these piles. These photographs show views of two different of these tainted surface puddles.
Hopefully the oily fluids in the metal is not acutely toxic. However, there can be no doubt the tainted water is a pollutant. Although the predominant color of the water was white, several unearthly shades of yellow, green, brown and red could be seen. Some pools also had a white foamy scum on their surfaces.
Between January 24 and 31, the size of these puddles had grown by over tenfold. It was obvious that heavy equipment had been at work on this site during the intervening week.
The most serious situation is shown in these photographs. The view at right is looking east from the extreme northwest corner of Marley's at a eight feet pile of metal grindings. The ground is littered with metal shavings and filings and the ground surface is dotted with large puddles of tainted water. A water sample was taken of the puddle in the foreground.
The view below is looking west. The sewage treatment plant is in the right background, and the pile of grindings is now on the left. The same oily puddles can be seen seeping slowly across the ground to the west in the direction of the Barge Canal. In the background is a pile of tires, also a good source of contaminants.
Just to the right of the pile are two thick flat metal slabs which had been covering a hole.
This photograph shows the view looking into this exposed hole. It is a man-made brick lined shaft with metal rungs. Water can be seen standing in this shaft immediately below the second rung.
I managed squeezed into this hole, descend the rungs, bend over and take a water sample without touching the thick red slime covering the bricks or falling in. My hand was covered with greasy oil where I held the upper rung.
This photograph shows a curious hole over two feet deep along the north edge of Marley's filled with rusty red water and a ring of scum. A thoroughly rusted 50 drum pokes out of this water filled hole.
The ten feet embankment in the rear leads up to the scrap yard. It is likely that this hole reveals the top level of the table of toxic water under the entire site. An archaeologist's trench up on the embankment near here recorded water at a nine foot level.