The Lake George Association has initiated a law suit to stop the use of an herbicide to kill Eurasian milfoil in northern Lake George.
At its April 26 meeting, the Lake George Park Commission approved a contract with a national environmental firm, Solitude Lake Management, to test the herbicide ProcellaCOR at two sites, one near Glenburnie, the other at Huletts Landing.
The treatments, which have been authorized by the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency, were scheduled to take place within the next three weeks.
“If we receive a positive response from the New York State Supreme Court, we will have prevented the Lake George Park Commission from using the herbicide this spring and hence this year, which, candidly, is our intent,” said Jeff Killeen, the chairman of the LGA’s Board of Directors.
According to the LGA, the APA’s approval was based on incomplete information about the chemicals’ potentially adverse impacts on Lake George’s water quality and aquatic life.
Thomas West, a lawyer and a member of the LGA’s Board of Directors, said Article 78 proceedings have been filed against the Adirondack Park Agency charging the approval process was “procedurally flawed and arbitrary and capricious.”
The LGA has asked the Supreme Court to impose a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction against the Lake George Park Commission, blocking the scheduled treatments.
If both are granted, the treatment of the invasive aquatic plant with the herbicide will be halted until the Court has an opportunity to rule on the merits of the Article 78 petition, said West.
“Pause and Partner”
If the Lake George Park Commission be compelled to re-submit its application to the APA to test ProcellaCOR, the agency could hold an adjudicatory hearing, something demanded by the LGA.
“We hope a to bring our concerns to a forum where the appropriate experts on both sides could present testimony,” said Jeff Killeen, “Lake George deserves nothing less than a full hearing on both the risks and the rewards to the ecosystem of this product.”
A twelve-month delay would enable more scientific research to be conducted, said Killeen.
Peter Menzies, the LGA’s vice-president, asked, “What’s the urgency? Where is the harm in waiting 12 months until more research on ProcellaCOR’s Lake George-specific impacts are considered?”
“If we’ve learned anything over the last decade, it’s that Lake George is not only ecologically complex, it’s unique,” said Menzies.
“Let’s pause and partner,” said Killeen.
LGPC: No Further Studies Needed
According to Dave Wick, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission, ProcellaCOR’s active ingredient is one of only 15 approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency for the control of invasive aquatic species. It was approved by the EPA in 2018 after eight years of exhaustive, peer-reviewed studies, he said.
Several New York State agencies and divsions within agencies reviewed the impacts of ProcellaCOR on drinking water and aquatic organisms before the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Pesticide Management approved the use of the herbicide in New York in 2019, said Wick.
Wick added that the DEC concluded there were no gaps in its own or the EPA’s data, meaning that no further studies have been deemed necessary.
Wick acknowledged that neither the Adirondack Park Agency nor the Lake George Park Commission had conducted their own, independent studies of ProcellaCOR.
“No one at the APA or the Lake George Park Commission has that kind of expertise,” said Wick.
“We believe in the people who have researched the product and who have signed off on its use in Lake George. We believe it to be safe and effective,” said Wick.
LGA Commits to Independent Review of Herbicide
Regardless of the outcome of its suit, the LGA, in partnership with academic and private sector scientists, will conduct an independent, non-manufacturer-sponsored study of ProcellaCOR starting this spring, said Killeen.
It will be a pioneering study of ProcellaCOR’s likely impacts on Lake George, said Killeen.
“It will trigger the deployment of all our resources,” said Killeen. “It is our responsibility to evaluate this product.”
Killeen said the twelve month study, which the LGA will finance, “may not answer every question about this product, but it will answer many of them, and if emerges that the product is safe, than we will have a level of confidence in it far in excess of what we have now.”
As of May 6, more than 1700 people had signed a citizen-initiated petition “asking the LGPC to hold off on putting this toxic chemical (into the lake) until the scientists have done the necessary Lake George-specific research to determine long-term effects.”
The Town Boards of Hague and Ticonderoga have adopted resolutions opposing the use of the herbicide.
“Citizens, property owners and business owners around the lake agree with us,” said Killeen. They’re saying ‘It’s too risky. Let’s pause. Let’s look at this more scientifically.’”
When reviewing the Lake George Park Commission’s application to use ProcellaCOR, the Adirondack Park Agency should have taken into account public opposition to the Park Commission’s proposal, said Killeen.
Tom West argues that the APA’s omission provides additional grounds for bringing Article 78 proceedings against the agency
“The Adirondack Park Agency’s commissioners were not presented with the substantial, technical comments that were submitted to the APA. The staff presented only one side of the issue,” said West.
Killeen said the opposition to the use of ProcellaCOR represented “an organic groundswell of opinion.”
Dave Wick, the Lake George Park Commission’s executive director disputed Kelleen’s assertion that the opposition was “organic.”
Of the 303 letters opposing the project submitted to the Adirondack Park Agency, all but a few were generated by the LGA, he said.
“And literally every email in opposition that the Commission has received has simply re-stated the inaccurate talking points that the LGA put forth to the public,” said Wick.