East Flume



The following is from the Remedial Investigation Report, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation – December of 2002

4.5.1 History from Aerial Photographs

The history of the discharge of the Solvay wastes through the East Flume is clearly seen in a series of aerial
photographs (Figures 4-6 to 4-12).

In the 1926 photograph (Figure 4-6), there is no apparent discharge to the lake in the area of the Honeywell shoreline. Neither the structures associated with the causeway/docking facility nor the East Flume have been constructed. There are buildings at the visible portion of the Willis Avenue Plant (the poor quality of the photograph obscures some of the plant site). Wastebed B is covered with a white material, indicating that the disposal ofSolvay waste was very recent or still ongoing. There is some construction activity on the western side of Waste bed A, west of the Willis Avenue Plant; perhaps the construction of the Semet Residue Ponds.

In the September 1938 photograph (Figure 4- 7- below), there is an obvious plume of waste (which appears to be Solvay waste) entering the lake east of the causeway, near the western end of Waste bed B. There is already a delta ofSolvay waste in the lake outside of the bermed areas of Waste bed B, suggesting that inlake disposal had been occurring before this photograph was taken.


In the October 1951 photograph (Figure 4-8), the plume ofSolvay waste has greatly expanded, suggesting that the disposal had increased since 1938. The deltaofSolvaywaste is extended at least 1,000 ft (300 m) into the lake and beyond (to the east of) the mouth of Harbor Brook. This roughly corresponds to the area indicated as Area A in Figure 3-9, and also corresponds to the relatively shallow (3 to 10ft [1 to 3 m] water depth) area in Figure 3-1. Honeywell has extended the outlet of the East Flume to roughly the midpoint of Waste bed B.

In the June 1959 photograph (Figure 4-9), it appears that the discharge ofSolvaywaste has stopped or been greatly reduced. However, the delta of waste materials is still very obvious, and waves can be seen breaking along the edge of the delta. The East Flume has apparently cut a meandering channel to discharge to the lake at a location slightly east of that shown in the 1951 photograph.

In the June 1966 photograph (Figure 4-1 0), a flow of water, but no apparent Solvay waste, can be seen emanating from the mouth of the East Flume. The East Flume has apparently continued to cut a meandering channel to discharge to the lake somewhat farther east than shown in the 1959 photograph, and the area of the lake east of the mouth of Harbor Brook has been filled. The extent of the delta is now less obvious in the photograph; the delta may have settled or eroded so that the water is deep enough to hide its extent. Some of the delta along the shoreline now appears as dry land that did not exist prior to 1959.

In the April 1967 and September 1978 photographs (Figures 4-11 and 4-12), flow from the East Flume and the conditions of the waste deposit delta have not changed significantly from the 1966 photograph.

Chapter 4.5.2 History from Written Documentation

The disposal of waste materials in the lake was also documented in several government reports, which were
written at a time when the discharge could have been witnessed by the authors.


The 1948 City of Syracuse Engineers report, “Pollution Survey of Onondaga Lake and its Tributaries,” identified an area of Solvay waste deposits near the East Flume (Figure 4-13 – above). This identified area approximates the delta seen in the 1938 aerial photograph. Four water samples were collected in 1948 from Station 10 (shown on Figure 4-13); however, there is some language in the associated text which suggests that these samples could have been collected in the East Flume itself. These samples averaged 1,100 mg/L of total suspended solids (TSS) and pH of 10.2, suggesting that Solvay waste was being discharged into the lake, regardless of the exact location of the sample collections.
The Water Pollution Control Board/New York State Department of Health produced a report in 1951 entitled “The Onondaga Lake Drainage Basin – Recommended Classifications and Assignments of Standards of Quality and Purity for Designated Waters ofNew York State.” This report contains several passages that describe the waste disposal in the lake as follows:

“The Solvay Process Division, Allied Chemical and Dye Corporation, discharges industrial wastes through a rough flume to Onondaga Lake. With this industrial waste is mixed the untreated sanitary sewage of the Village of Solvay. The discharge is located in the southwest corner of the lake and its exact point of discharge is changed from time to time.”

“A flume carrying some of the industrial wastes and sanitary wastes of the Solvay Process Company and Solvay Village discharges to Onondaga Lake on the southwest shore near the intersection of State Fair Boulevard and Willis Avenue. These combined wastes have a great quantity of suspended and dissolved material, are usually grey-white or grey-green in color and intennittently cause surface fihn. ”

“A portion of the (Allied) plant industrial waste, together with the plant sanitary wastes and the sanitary waste from the Village ofSolvay is collected and piped to the shore of Onondaga Lake where it enters a flume and is conducted to the lake proper. The fmal point of discharge from this flume is changed at intervals presumably in an effort to control the formation of the delta which is being built up by the suspended solids.”


East Flume sediments contain metals, including:

mercury, semi-volatile organic compounds (including chlorinated benzenes, naphthalene and other PAH compounds),
benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene, xylene, chlorobenzene, and dioxins/furans.


Partial List of site Contaminants


CAS # Contaminant Name Contaminated
More Information
91-20-3 NAPHTHALENE Sediment
71-43-2 BENZENE Sediment ATSDR Profile
71-43-2 BENZENE Sediment ATSDR Profile
71-43-2 BENZENE Sediment ATSDR Profile
1330-20-7 XYLENE Sediment ATSDR Profile
108-88-3 TOLUNE Sediment ATSDR Profile
Chlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins Sediment ATSDR Profile
2,3-Benzofuran Sediment ATSDR Profile


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