Sunday, June 23, 2024

In wake of ProcellaCOR pilot approval, Lake George Association fights to keep lake chemical-free

Not 1 Drop yard sign

See below for a letter of concern written by Lake George Association Interim Executive Director Leigh Youngblood. Letter dated, June 21.

“Dear fellow Lake Protectors —

As you may have heard, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) voted yesterday to approve the Lake George Park Commission’s permits to experiment with the aquatic herbicide ProcellaCOR in Lake George. We are baffled but not surprised by this.

Three New York State environmental agencies have consistently and willfully dismissed the objections of thousands of residents and visitors and public officials who have made it clear that Lake George is no place to test chemicals. It is not wanted, and it is not needed.

Since 2022, the Lake George Association and the Lake George Waterkeeper have invested in preventing the application of ProcellaCOR. We do not intend to stop now. Indeed, we are more determined and more convinced that no one knows enough about this herbicide to say with certainty that it will not harm the Lake or those who use it.

In addition to our communications efforts, the LGA reached out to the Lake George Park Commission on numerous occasions to find common ground. At the end of May, we offered to pay for hand harvesting of milfoil in the two bays where they plan to use ProcellaCOR. This would give us all time to more fully and scientifically assess the pesticide as well as come up with a comprehensive and environmentally sound aquatic invasive species lake management plan. The commission rejected it, but the offer still stands.

We have reached out to, and will continue to reach out to Governor Hochul, who can stop the application. We leveraged the support of influential organizations, including the Adirondack Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Clean Air Action Network, Clean + Healthy, Moms for a Nontoxic New York, and Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. We also earned the support of Governor Pataki, whose op-ed was published in the Times Union yesterday. And we are taking every legal avenue available.

In May we filed for a motion for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals in Albany regarding the Appellate Court ruling on May 2 that allowed the APA to move forward with permit approval without an adjudicatory hearing. We expect a response from the court early next week.

Yesterday, the LGA and Lake George Waterkeeper commenced litigation in Warren County Supreme Court, along with the Town of Hague, Town of Dresden, and riparian property owners Delphine Knight Brown, Elizabeth Hildebrandt, Helena G. Rice, Jillian and Michael Maginnis, and Scott Engler, against the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC), Adirondack Park Agency, and NY State Department of Environmental Conservation. We seek to annul approvals granted to apply ProcellaCOR in Lake George and enjoin the use of the aquatic herbicide in Lake George through a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and permanent injunctive relief.

We are confident in our claims, which are stronger and different from those filed in May 2022. The suit raises claims about the rights of riparian property owners on Blairs Bay and Sheep Meadow Bay, and it provides scientific evidence that was not available in 2022 when the APA permits were first issued.

Our position on ProcellaCOR is a principled one that employs caution and care for this unique Lake of ours that provides so much, generation after generation. To potentially squander quality of life and quality of lake for the sake of a chemical experiment is unfathomable. And so we persevere.

We are ready for our next day in court. We invite Governor Hochul to bestow common sense on this matter. And we will persist in finding a way to work with the Park Commission to keep Lake George clear and clean without the use of chemicals.

I thank you for your support.”

Photo at top: Residents around Lake George are fighting back against a plan to use an herbicide against invasive milfoil. Photo by Zachary Matson.

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com




29 Responses

  1. Benjamin Franklin says:

    Maybe ProcellaCOR is the most wonderful pesticide ever created by human ingenuity. Maybe it is unique in the history of all pesticides that, even though it is designed to kill, it will only kill what we want it to kill and leave everything else very healthy with zero collateral consequences. Maybe we will be very lucky this time.

    • Bill Ott says:

      The US Army has designed the most wonderful artillery shells ever created by human ingenuity. They are unique in history in that though they are designed to kill, they only kill the enemy and leave every one else healthy with zero collateral consequences.

      • Benjamin Franklin says:

        Herbicides are pesticides but, in any event, both are designed to kill and they usually cause collateral damage in the process of killing the targeted one.

        • Paul says:

          Many herbicides prevent plant growth, so they do not kill the plants. You should maybe trust scientists a bit more since you don’t really know what you are talking about.

          • Benjamin Franklin says:

            Many herbicides are wonderful. They taste good too. We should use them on everything. We need no get rid of those pesky bad bad plants!

            • Benjamin Franklin says:

              Also, I forgot to add, of all the words ending in cide, such as suicide, homicide, pesticide, etc. only herbicide’s cide does not mean kill.

            • Paul says:

              Ben, Let’s all move back into caves. We can have the farmers pull the weeds from millions of acres by hand. We can all eat a 100 dollar ear if corn. Cide does mean kill but in this vernacular they use it for kill as well as preventing growth. Some things labeled fungicides for example prevent fungal growth. It’s just a terminology thing.

      • Benjamin Franklin says:

        You are absolutely correct. There is never collateral damage from artillery shells just as there are no innocent children.

  2. Joan Grabe says:

    Are we supposed to pray that we get lucky this time ? When all we have to do is persuade or sue the APA so that they do not use ProcellaCor in those 2 Lake George locations. Upper Saranac lake uses divers to harvest milfoil by hand. It is a constant summer task but we are not using chemicals. As we now know, despite all their blatant self congratulations GE has been shown to have done a totally ineffective job cleaning up the Hudson River. That job will now belong to the state as GE is struggling. Another weasel move and gift to GE.

  3. M.P. Heller says:

    A lot of handwringing and pearl clutching going on here.

    After the contractors spread a couple gallons of this herbicide (not pesticide) in the permitted locations, I wonder how many of the “Not One Drop” signs will be recycled and how many will end up in landfills for the next several centuries.

  4. Tony Goldsmith says:

    Given that all the science on ProcellaCOR has established adequate safety such that a number of governmental agencies has seen to certify its safety, the reasoning, if you want to call it that, that the LGA and others are using if applied to COVID vaccines, would have kept millions from being protected from the disease and its fatal effects. If you can’t come up with better arguments (and scientific proof), you are only acting out of fear. And the sky is not falling. But lakes are being threatened by this invasive in such a way that wildlife is threatened and people enjoying the lakes is threatened too. Hand harvesting does not keep this weed from invading – at best it keeps it from invading faster.

    Motor boats do harm to water quality. Ban them too?

    • Paul says:

      Tony, many of these people do not trust scientists, they just say it isn’t safe so it must not be safe, forget it, is a lost cause. They think they are protecting the lake not the opposite like what they are doing.

      • Benjamin Franklin says:

        Of course everybody trusts all scientists no matter who is paying for their research. Scientists cannot be corrupted. Scientists are all geniuses. Scientists are perfect, we all know this.

        • Paul says:

          Ben, I guess here you are just assuming that these ones are corrupt.. Based on What? You have some evidence to show us of their corruption I assume.. or are you just saying because some are, we should assume all are and not trust any. The main payment here is from us to the federal government to the EPA who I assume is also all corrupted by some evil corporate influence?

  5. Stop Overtourism says:

    It’s rather silly that those against the use of this chemical, which has been proven safe over and over, could be against this because they want no “chemicals” in the lake. How many of your boats and sea-doos are leaking oil into that lake every day? How many trucks, snowmobiles and other refuse have fallen through the ice and remain in the lake? How much sewage is running into your pristine lake from your lakeside homes and camps? You’re worried about ProcellaCOR? Make your lake a no-motor lake and I might respect your argument. “Chemical” is not a bad word. We are made of chemicals. Everything we use is made of chemicals and chemicals are already in the lake – including your oil-burning boats, garbage dumped in it by tourists and locals alike, lost fishing gear that is harming wildlife, motor vehicles that fall through the ice, human waste… Most chemicals are a necessary part of nature and of human civilization. Most are not harmful. Yes, we know many are indeed harmful to public or environmental health, as proven by the scientific method. This isn’t one of them. How much processed food do you consume daily? How much plastic do you dispose of daily? How’s your carbon footprint doing? If you’re worried about polluting the Queen of Lakes, take your motor boats off of it. The loons will appreciate the quiet.

    • Benjamin Franklin says:

      You are correct. These anti ProcellCOR hippies are after your boat. That is the logical next step, and these organic loving, fast food hating, processed food despisers are probably the ones leaking their septic tanks into the lake just so the fish will taste, dare I say, fishy. You are truly correct. No sentient human being with half a brain could have any legitimate concerns about PrecellaCOR.

      • Stop Overtourism says:

        I’m all for the protection of human health, wildlife health, and environmental health. I’m as flaming liberal as a liberal can be. But I’m also rational and I understand the concept of “regulatory capture.” Too much health and environmental policy these days is not based on evidence, but on well-financed and politically connected emotional lobbying from special interests who often have little real understanding of the scientific method (which is not perfect but is the best we have – that’s why we continue to experiment to find the truth). Someone brought up corruption in scientific research. Is there corruption? Sure there is. Corruption is everywhere and we should call it out when we see it. There is no corruption here. The data speaks for itself. This kind of behavior doesn’t protect anyone from anything. When you get the motor boats out of the lake, clean up the garbage, and limit the number of HUMANS recreating there, I’ll be more respectful of your concern about an herbicide’s effect on water quality.

  6. Boreas says:

    Ah c’mon – what could go wrong?

    Yes indeed, some scientists and government agencies can be corrupted to say what we want to hear. There is a long list of “safe” drugs and chemicals around the world that are now banned and known to be toxic. Lack of due diligence.

    But a big part of the problem is that the media, government, industry, and especially the PEOPLE are NOT scientists and do not know how to interpret scientific data, studies, and reports. They all cherry-pick data and make poor conclusions based on certain results and ignore others. Also, scientific studies – if anyone bothers to read them – tend to be very specific as to how they tested, narrow as to what they tested, and for how long. Rarely are scientific studies long-term, it is impossible to test all organisms individually for toxicity, and long-term biome/habitat studies are rare as well. Stating that a compound is “safe” for X, Y, and Z means it was ONLY tested on X, Y, and Z. And the definition of “safe” is often arbitrary.

    What is more common is for industry and government to state generalities about human, plant, vertebrate, and invertebrate “safety” and if there are no obvious red flags (with minimal testing and study), the substance is green-lighted as “safe” and sent into the environment ASAP. Unfortunately, this is only the BEGINNING of long-term, real-world testing. Humans, animals, and plants are always the guinea pigs. We know how often this real-world testing takes decades to elucidate the actual effect on the environment – whether good, bad, or benign.

    The purpose of my rant isn’t to chide scientists, media, politicians, industry, etc., but to chide ordinary citizens – US – for not educating ourselves, not learning critical thinking skills, and allowing the above entities to decide for us. Citizens rarely get interested until a problem effects them directly. Then the blame game starts after the cat is out of the bag.

  7. ADK Bill says:

    Isn’t Roundup an herbicide …… look what we are learning about it after all these years

  8. Stop Overtourism says:

    Lake George is a prime example of overdevelopment within the Blue Line. The shores of Lake George are a suburban subdivision of second homes and hotels. You simply can’t protest a proven-safe herbicide whose benefits plainly outweigh the risks of Eurasian Milfoil (digging it out by hand can also be ineffective – the action of physically yanking it out can also cause it to spread it’s seed) when you permit thousands of motor craft on the lake and all the garbage, pollution and negative human impact that goes with them. Overdevelopment and warming temperatures are a much bigger threat to the health of Adirondack lakes than a small amount of herbicide in small sections of the lake. The problem is too. many. people.

  9. louis curth says:

    MEOW! Boreas says;”the cat is out of the bag.” My own life experiences would confirm that, along with the need for the public to maintain a large dose of mistrust about the safety of chemicals. As a matter of fact, I recently made a pertinent comment in response to a column by our esteemed nature writer Gary Lee. Here is an excerpt:

    louis curth says:
    June 1, 2024 at 5:54 pm
    “Your story made me think back to an oversight horror from my own childhood summers. Back then the kids thought it was great fun to run and ride bikes behind the “mosquito control” jeep that periodically sprayed a dense white fog of DDT all around the county. Oversight? I’m guessing none – except the worry that a kid might fall off a bike in that dense fog. Back then, nobody seemed worried that the widespread use of DDT might cause health problems, or devastate our natural ecosystems the way they did.

    Many years later, at Paul Smith’s College, our class was attending a maple syrup workshop at the Grange Hall near Malone. The sales rep. from a well known chemical company had just given us a pep talk about the company’s exciting new formaldehyde pills. They could be inserted behind each spile to increase sap flow. This use sounded a bit strange to me.

    After he finished pitching his product, the salesman launched into a vicious attack demeaning a woman that I had never even heard of. Her name was Rachel Carson, and, as I quickly learned, she had written a book about the chemical industry that sounded like it might be worth reading. The title of her book was “Silent Spring”!

    In retrospect, I realize that this was a coming-of-age moment for me, when I began to see a darker side to our ideal of an “American Dream”, with opportunity for all. This darker side venerates an unfettered and under-regulated, money driven corporate culture above all. Many more such moments lay ahead.”

    If you need more examples of chemical abuses which degraded our Adirondack region and its people, there are plenty more including; the forever chemicals in our water, the plastics, now lodged in the bodies of all of us, the ubiquitous PCBs pollution that ruined the Hudson, and let’s not forget the acid rain that changed Adirondack fishing forever. Lake George????

    • Boreas says:

      Louis,

      Indeed – based on the amount of press, one would think Eurasion Milfoil (EM) is the only threat to Lake George.

      At least EM isn’t continually being dumped into the watershed – as are septic, fertilizers, forever chemicals, atmospheric toxins, fuel/oil, and invasives known and unknown. Simply because it is something we can SEE seems to make it a bigger issue. It is no wonder many people are lackadaisical about adding yet another “safe” chemical stress to the lake. If it deemed “safe” for humans, it must be OK for the Greater LG ecosystem, right?

      • Paul says:

        Boreas, it has not only been deemed safe for humans, studies in other places where it has been used looked at many aspects of the ecosystem and what its impacts might have or not have. You have probably seen some of the other things that they have looked at. I am not suggesting any sort of lacksidasic approach. Neither was the EPA, the DEC, the APA, the Commission, or others. These are false accusations.

        • Boreas says:

          Paul,

          Not exactly what I am saying. I am not saying the science is lackadaisical – not alleging conspiracies or corruption. I stated the PEOPLE in general are lackadaisical because of many other issues with pollution and invasives. Other places are other places. Other ecosystems are other ecosystems. There is really no other way to see what its long-term effects are until you dump it in LG and sit back and see what happens. Some of us are more cautious is all. Long-term benefit vs. risk and all.

  10. louis curth says:

    “Deemed safe for humans”. How many times have we all heard such reassuring words in one form or another, only to find out much later that those soothing words had to be walked back for a product that wasn’t so safe after all, AND (surprise surprise), it has been discovered to have a few “minor” ” problems. Does anybody remember Dioxin? Aldrin? 2,4-D & 2-4-5-T? The Thalidomide babies tragedy?

    CRASH go the stock prices as investors bail out. UP goes the trial lawyers advertising. budget as they calculate lawsuit possibilities. ON THE ROAD AGAIN sing the corporate PR flunkies as they head for ground zero to spin the damage and discredit their opponents information. Let the “greenwashing” begin!

    Kudos to the Lake George Association and the Lake George Waterkeeper for standing fast on the importance of greater public input and more thorough due diligence on the part of all agencies charged with the preserving the best possible water quality for our “Queen of American Lakes” both now and in the future.

    When people work together in “community” good things can happen…

    • Bill Ott says:

      I had to look up the history of Thalidomide after reading your comment because it struck me that Donald Trump could have been a Thalidomide baby but the timing was wrong. Also, I was reaching by thinking the drug affected the brain.

  11. Stop Overtourism says:

    Please.
    Yes, we now know certain widely used and poorly tested chemicals have done damage to human health and the environment in the past and are now banned. We know science is not perfection but that the scientific method is the best we have. It took a long time for us to accept that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around. But we need to be rational and have some self-awareness. Have the chemicals in the pressure-treated wood your boat dock is constructed from been tested to your satisfaction? Multiply that by about 10,000 for Lake George. No concern about the oil from your motor boat polluting this already garbage-filled suburban sprawl of a lake? Has everyone replaced their failing septic systems seeping into the lake? How many property owners are laughing all the way to the bank renting their “camp” out to large groups of short term vacationers driving sea-doos like cowboys, losing fish hooks and fishing line that’s now embedded in some loon’s or turtle’s neck, taxing septic systems, throwing firecrackers into the lake, enjoying fireworks on the 4th…need I go on? There is NOTHING wild about this lake and that has been the case since overdevelopment started in the 60’s when my parents brought me to Story Town as a kid. You’re a little late to the “protect forever wild” party. The manner of use and amount of ProcelliCOR proposed is absolutely negligible and a silly thing to protest.

  12. louis curth says:

    C’mon Bill Ott, I won’t let your sarcasm about Trump distract me from my suspicions about toxic chemicals, except to admit that I grew up with a mother who was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican and a father who called voting a “waste of time”.

    A lot of my distrust about chemical misuse stems from the experiences I had that I commented to Gary Lee about on June 1 (see above).

    Moving over to “Stop Overtourism says”; I thought you did a great job with your litany of Lake George problems that need attention. It reminds me very much of the public outrage that led up to the first Earth Day in 1970. The politicians got that message loud and clear, and they got to work on a lot of environmental problems in the years that followed, until public interest started to wane.

    LG Assoc., Waterkeeper, Adk. Wild, Adk. Council, etc. are watchdog environmental organizations, and they are doing important work in Lake George and wherever remnants of our wild places can be protected. they are always underfunded and understaffed, but they could do a lot if they had more backing from those of us who love these Adirondacks. Think about it…

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