Albany Times Union
Rush job on Lake George
So, once again, the Lake George Park Commission wants to try out an aquatic herbicide in The Queen of America’s Lakes — something that’s never been done before. And a compliant Adirondack Park Agency was poised to let it do just that before a judge stopped the APA from cutting corners on its own review process.
We can’t seem to say this enough: One of the nation’s most pristine lakes is not the appropriate place for a chemistry experiment that could risk its water quality and all that depends on it.
We’re well aware that the manufacturer of Procellacor and the commission say they are convinced of the safety of this treatment for Eurasian watermilfoil, and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agrees. And yes, the invasive plant represents a threat of its own to the quality of the lake. And yes, mechanical removal of the plant is labor-intensive, and a costly and annually recurring exsubstances, pense. And yes, the commission only wants to see how the treatment performs on a trial basis in two locations on the lake’s eastern shore.
But we’re also well aware that a chemical dropped into a body of water doesn’t just stay put. And that the EPA approved this product just five years ago. How many things were allowed to be dumped in lakes and rivers before their toxicity was understood? How may products did regulators say were acceptable in drinking water sources in seemingly small concentrations only to determine, after years of exposure, that they were wrong ?
A case in point is PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances, used in a variety of applications including nonstick cookware and firefighting foam. The EPA last Tuesday proposed to drop its legally enforceable cap on PFAS from 70 parts per trillion in drinking water to just 4 ppt. It also recommended a nonenforceable limit of zero in some cases. Supposedly more cautious New York had a limit of 10 ppt.
That’s small comfort to people in Hoosick Falls, where one of those PFOA, was found in the drinking water thanks to a private citizen whose father had died of cancer. It took years to get the state to take meaningful public health action.
What’s particularly troubling in the Lake George matter is that the Adirondack Park Agency rubber-stamped the Lake George Park Commission’s request without a required public hearing — amid ongoing litigation brought by opponents of the herbicide’s use, no less. A state Supreme Court justice ruled March 3 that the APA should have held a public hearing before issuing the permit. That lapse turns out to be an ongoing dereliction by the APA, which the Adirondack Explorer reports has not held such public hearings in years. Gov. Kathy Hochul should put an end to this arrogant negligence.
As for the herbicide plan, it should at the very least be open to public scrutiny and comment. And no action should be taken on the application while the Lake George Association’s lawsuit proceeds. There is just too much at stake to rush a potential misstep in a lake on which so many people depend for drinking water and their livelihoods.