Toxic blob on the move in Lake Erie

The Detroit News

Cleveland water officials say the Ohio city’s drinking supply is safe despite recent reports that a toxic mass of dredged sediment has migrated in Lake Erie.

“Recent news has brought to light that sediment years ago dredged from the Cuyahoga River and disposed of in an area of Lake Erie referred to as CLA-1, has migrated from its original location,” Cleveland Water authorities said in a statement on its website Monday.

“The sediment contains harmful pollutants and has moved within five miles of the shoreline closer to our Nottingham Water Treatment Plant intake, but there’s no need for Cleveland Water customers to worry about the quality of their drinking water.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that a 2-square-mile blob with poisonous dredged material dumped untreated into the lake before the Clean Water Act in 1972 has sparked concerns at the Ohio EPA.

Officials at the agency warned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Great Lakes division about the potential dangers from the sediments, which has toxic pollutants fatal to aquatic organisms, according Plain Dealer story. Recent tests of sentiment in Area 1 of the lake bottom, the article said, found “alarmingly high” concentrations of PCBs and PAHs — polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Representatives at the Ohio EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.

In their statement to customers, Cleveland water officials said they were monitoring and continuously testing the water coming from the lake as well as treated water leaving the plants “to ensure that what we deliver to you is safe, quality water that meets and exceeds State and Federal drinking water standards. We are working closely with the Ohio EPA on this issue, and have already planned to implement enhanced monitoring in this area. To date, our sampling has indicated no cause for concern. Your water is safe to drink and use as normal.”

The department also said: “Over the past 15 years, we have invested more than $650 million modernizing our water treatment plants, and years ago moved our intakes further out into the lake away from shoreline contaminants. Because of these significant investments, if elevated levels of contaminants are detected in the raw water, our conventional treatment process is designed to reduce any potential risk to our customers.”