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Ludlowville FallsLudlowville Falls

The Lansing Town Board authorized up to $5,000 for lead testing in and around Salmon Creek from Ludlowville to the creek outflow area.  Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne says he would prefer the testing be done by independent soil samplers and lab to remove any doubt about the findings.  But Councilwoman Katrina Binkewicz said that she and Councilwoman Andra Benson will collect samples to be analyzed by a local laboratory.

"If we end up having any measurable levels anywhere we will want to bring in additional outside testing for duplicate verification," said Binkewicz, who has a masters degree in soil sampling.  "I did talk to the lab about their protocol -- particle size, exactly how to do the testing."

The initiative was motivated by public outcry about lead mitigation and an EPA order of consent that prompted the Lansing Rod & Gun Club to move shooting ranges on their property such that shooting will not go toward or into Salmon Creek or wetlands.  But Town Attorney Guy Krogh said that even if lead is found, there is no way to prove it came from the club.  Krogh consulted an environmental attorney, and reported to the Town Board on that conversation.

"The first question was DEC permitting," Town Attorney Guy Krogh said. "There is a permitting process, but it depends on how much soil you're moving and the sampling, and to what extent you're actually into actual benthic areas in the water.  It turns out there might be an exemption for sampling, but it depends on when, etc.  But it sounds like that hurdle was crossed.  The second point is that if you're going to be doing sampling, and you want them to have scientific validity you might be wise to have an environmental engineer or somebody who does sampling protocols, knows where to test, etc., etc..  The third thing is if you don't find something what does that mean? And if you do find something what does that mean?  The overall question really was, what's the point of the sampling?"

Historically Ludlowville was an industrial area with a solution mine, blacksmith shops, mills, and other industry in that area that may have left lead in the ground.  Krogh said the environmental attorney noted that the EPA has already declared that there is a lead problem in the area and asked what the Town is trying to say beyond that.

Councilman Joe Wetmore said we know there's a lead problem somewhere, but not specifically where.

"The question is, is there a public health issue we need to alert the public about," he said.

"We're not doing any deep sampling," Binkewicz said. "So it's just surface and it would be recent deposition.  I don't believe there is lead in those areas we're testing down by the lake. I don't think we'll find any lead.  Why should we spend the money?  Because there is a lot of passion that's been going in the conversation, and I believe in data. I think allocating $5,000 to rule out any health effects for our citizens is good money spent.  If we find it we can't say it's there because of X, Y, Z.  It just gives us data and understanding."

Binkewicz said her hope is that they don't even find lead in Ludlowville, where one resident testified at a public meeting in September that she and her six month old son suffered from lead poisoning due to contamination on her Ludlowville property.  Binkewicz said she has a masters degree in soil sampling, and experience doing it, and also spoke to using public money to test a small portion of the Town.

"Yes, we have to serve the whole town," Binkewicz said. "But in public areas the whole town visits, and children visit, if there is lead in the soil or Ludlowville Falls there should be a sign. That is our duty to put a sign there for families."

She said the money will be used to pay for the lab to test about 125 samples from the Salmon Creek outflow into Cayuga Lake, from the stream edge, from dredged materials the Highway Department recently removed from Salmon Creek, from the base of Ludlowville Falls, and just above the falls, plus ten control samples from upstream, north of Red Bridge.

LaVigne advocated for an independent testing expert, rather than having town board members doing the testing, no matter how experienced they are, on the grounds that people have scoffed at the gun club's testing results, and he fears the public would likewise discount testing by town officials.   LaVigne said that if they find lead in Binkewicz and Benson's samples he would be willing to allocate more dollars for an independent tester to corroborate or refute the Town's results if any significant level of lead is found.

Binkewicz said that testing costs about $30 for each sample, which will bring the total just below $4,000.  LaVigne said he would support allocating more money for independent testing if significant levels of lead are found in Binkewicz's samples.

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