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Scajaquada Creek runs red after minor spill

Town officials say dye is not harmful
Posted at 2:51 PM, Apr 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 09:41:51-04

An unnerving sight in Lancaster Tuesday afternoon, with the Scajaquada Creek turning red. 

Town officials say this is related to a minor spill of red dye used for landscaping mulch, and emphasize that the dye is NOT dangerous.

We're told the spill originated at 3981 Walden Avenue ((Superior Pallets)) and that the Town of Lancaster and the state DEC are both monitoring the situation.

According to a spokesperson from Superior Pallets, the dye is "Mulch Magic Ruby Red" color and is non-toxic. On Superior Pallets homepage, the company says it uses "the best dye on the market, Mulch Magic from Colorbiotics. The dye is made from natural additives and does not harm any plants or vegetables the mulch covers, or the environment."

The mulch is made and dyed by loading wood into a mulching machine and mixing in dye concentrate with water. The dyed mulch then goes up a conveyor belt to a trailer for transport.

Superior Pallets says the mulch is made 300 feet away from the creek and stored in a trailer 350 feet away from the creek. Mulch was last made Monday. The company thinks the dye may have leeched through the rain saturated ground.

Even though the dye is non-toxic and the water has not been chemically harmed, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper says this is a "shocking reminder of how easily storm water runoff regularly pollutes our regions waterways and ultimately our drinking water." Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper says the red dye contamination streaches over ten miles.

Superior Pallets has been in business for 17 years, but has been at its current location on Walden Avenue for only one year. The company made mulch last year and did not have any problems.

Superior Pallets is working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to fix this problem. The DEC released a statement about the issue after going to Scajaquada Creek on Tuesday after reports of water discoloration.

"Runoff from a leaking trailer containing red-dyed mulch at Superior Pallet Co., 3981 Walden Avenue in Lancaster, has been identified as the source of the water discoloration," said the statement from the DEC. "The mulch dye, "Mulch Magic Ruby Red," contains iron oxide and ammonium hydroxide. DEC Fisheries staff inspected the creek this afternoon and found no observable adverse downstream impacts to fish populations. The spill has been contained and water coloration is improving. DEC is continuing to monitor and investigate the incident and will pursue appropriate enforcement actions if warranted."