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DEC begins emergency clean-up response to coal tar discharges to Scajaquada Creek Harbor from pumphouse


Fri, Aug 26th 2022 11:30 pm

DEC advises public to avoid contact with water and consuming fish until further notice

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced today that DEC’s spill response unit is beginning work to contain and eliminate coal tar and other hazardous substances from entering the lower section of Scajaquada Creek from a pumphouse at Niagara Street near Scajaquada Creek’s outlet to the Black Rock Canal in Buffalo.

In an abundance of caution, DEC is advising the public to avoid contact with the water until further notice. Fish advisories will be posted to remind the public not to eat fish from the Scajaquada Creek and Black Rock Canal. Black Rock Canal is designated as a Class C waterbody, as water quality conditions do not support contact recreation.

A press release shared the following:

DEC’s investigation of the lower Scajaquada Creek revealed coal tar and dense non-aqueous phase liquid in sediments from West Avenue downstream to the mouth of the stream and in the inlet area created when the main stem of Scajaquada Creek was redirected as part of the highway construction to its current configuration.

DEC is overseeing the work of T&R Environmental, a DEC spill response contractor, to mitigate the spill and prevent the discharge of contaminated groundwater and coal tar to Scajaquada Creek. Beginning Aug. 26, response efforts over the next several weeks will include:

√ Removing and replacing existing booms in areas near the pump station and inlet to prevent sheen migration into the creek;

√ Water sampling to evaluate for potential surface water contamination;

√ Cleaning and reinforcing sealant on pump house stormwater collection infrastructure to prevent contaminant infiltration;

√ Inspecting and evaluating subsurface infrastructure for potential infiltration of contaminants;

√ Managing and treating contaminated groundwater; and 

√ Treating and properly disposing of contaminated coal tar and sediment.

In addition, DEC is working closely with the City of Buffalo and National Fuel to address the spill. DEC is also leading the comprehensive investigation and remediation of Scajaquada Creek in coordination with the State Department of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the City of Buffalo.

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