DEC investigating two spills at Niagara Falls

Posted at 6:19 PM, Aug 16, 2017

Regina Ranney and her family are enjoying a picnic at Niagara Falls. She's visiting from Erie, Pennsylvania. “I think it's cool to see the beauty that's been there for so long.”

But recent that scenic view has been disrupted. First, last month, when visitors at Niagara Falls reported seeing and smelling the black inky substance in the lower Niagara River. “That event occurs to be a dry weather event. It was a disruption at the plant itself occurring from some maintenance activity at a sedimentation tank,” explained NYSDEC Executive Deputy Commissioner Ken Lynch.

Then, on Tuesday, another apparent spill into the lower Niagara River. According to the Niagara Falls Water Board, it was caused by overflow at the Waste Water Treatment Plant after a heavy rain. Officials don't believe the two spills are related.

The overflow problem is nothing new. According to data available on the DEC website, discharge from the plant has been reported roughly 20 times between May and July of 2017. “I don't think we're acting surprised. That's why we're fully investigating,” Lynch said.

According to a spokesman for Maid of the Mist, these spills haven't impacted tourism. Although visitors like Regina Ranney said she's staying away from the water after hearing of the black discharge. “I wouldn't want to get sprayed with the water if that's what's going to be in it.”

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ali Touhey: Is the material that was spilled dangerous?
Deputy Commissioner Lynch: We're not aware of any significant danger.

However, the DEC's investigation is far from over. The DEC has directed the Water Board to submit a report from its investigation within 30 days of each of the spills. It said it will issue a report soon after.