WEST CARTHAGE The state Department of Environmental Conservations Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site Program has released a notice stating that a half-mile segment of the sediment in the Black River is contaminated.
The program is responsible for identifying, investigating and cleaning up sites where the disposal of hazardous waste may present a threat to public health and the environment. The investigation team, including Lincoln B. Fancher, project manager from DEC, has deemed that sediment sections near the river running through the villages of Carthage and West Carthage contain a high level of polychlorinated biphenyl concentration.
The department sent a letter to village residents this week notifying them of the problem.
According to the letter, dioxins and PCBs have been detected in sediments with PCB concentrations up to 610 parts per million.
DEC officials were unavailable for comment Friday.
Officials from the state Department of Health were unable to offer specifics about the Black River sediment, but a public health specialist with the department who did not want to be named because she did not have clearance from the state Press Office said a safe level of PCBs per million can vary.
It really depends on where it is and the level of contact with the sediment, she said.
Chronic exposure to PCBs could have a negative effect on people and the environment, she said.
The letter said the hazardous waste is from former industrial activities. Throughout the years there have been paper mills along the river.
The specific part of the river is used for recreational activities and includes residential properties adjacent to the river.
According to DECs letter, further investigation is needed to determine the extent of site-related contamination and to evaluate potential human exposures.