LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Last year, the Lake George Park Commission embarked on a plan to utilize an herbicide never-before used in Lake George’s waters. After a preliminary injunction stopped those plans last summer, the commission is headed to a hearing this month to talk more about the herbicide’s safety. At the same time, it has applied to try again in 2023.
Last week, the Lake George Park Commission sent out a letter of notification to property owners in the area of Blairs Bay and Sheep Meadow Bay, stating that the commission has applied to the DEC and Adirondack Park Agency to use the ProcellaCOR EC herbicide. Located on the upper east side of Lake George, both bays have seen outbreaks of Eurasian watermilfoil, which have previously been managed through hand-harvesting. The two bays cover 4 acres and 3.6 acres, respectively.
The herbicide has been used in nearby Minerva Lake, and in some other states to control the growth of watermilfoil, an invasive plant that grows quickly and blocks out sunlight from reaching lower-growing plant life. While the Lake George Park Commission states that it will be used at small-enough amounts to be harmless to humans, the Lake George Association feels differently.
“There’s been no change (since last summer’s plan was halted) as far as we’re concerned,” said LGA President Eric Siy. “We have yet to see or hear about any science being conducted that reassures the thousands in opposition. This is essentially a redo without the needed research.”
The science in question is what led to the ProcellaCOR plan being halted in 2022. Last June, New York State Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Muller denied the commission’s usage plan after receiving a request from Siy at the LGA, as well as Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, the town of Hague (located near one of the bays), and property owner Helena G. Rice. The resulting lawsuit saw the LGA stating that the Adirondack Park Agency failed to meet the requirements of the APA Act when OKing the herbicide for use.
Now, the LGPC’s new application comes right as the organization is set to hear even more about what may make ProcellaCOR unsafe. On Feb. 17, the commission and the APA will be represented by New York State at a hearing in New York State Supreme Court. The LGA will be there, too, presenting science that it feels calls ProcellaCOR’s safety into question – science Siy says the commission should have heard before applying to use the herbicide again.
“It feels like leapfrogging the process. We’re adhering to the process that the court and the hearing have established – not getting ahead of it,” Siy said.
The Lake George Park Commission did not respond to a NEWS10 request for comment on Wednesday.
Safe or not?
ProcellaCOR EC has been approved by the EPA since 2018, followed by the DEC in 2019. It’s seen effective use at Minerva Lake, but lacks a large amount of data when it comes to human impact, especially when carried by strong currents around a large water body like Lake George.
In bold text on page 2 of the notice sent to Lake George residents, the commission states the following:
“ProcellaCOR applications to control in-lake invasive plants have no impact on public health, and there are no restrictions on swimming, fishing or potable/domestic water use once the application is complete.”
The following paragraph then goes on to describe a water monitoring process to be conducted after ProcellaCOR is applied to the two bays. After the herbicide is used, water samples will be taken at the 12- and 24-hour mark, as well as the 3-day and 7-day marks, to watch concentration levels. As the concentrations are monitored, restrictions will be placed on livestock watering and irrigation.
“So what does that mean,” asked Siy. “To me, that sounds confusing at best. How can it be safe for people, and not livestock?”
The town of Hague, located near the two affected bays, doesn’t feel safe, either. Last year, the town passed a formal resolution opposing the herbicide’s use, based on input from just short of 300 residents. To date, the LGA says that it has heard from more than 4,500 concerned citizens across different parts of Lake George.
ProcellaCOR usage at Minerva Lake in 2020 eliminated Eurasian watermilfoil completely across 41 acres. The process used 8.73 gallons of herbicide and took around 20 weeks. APA monitoring in 2021 reported no significant impact on wetlands or other plants.
Feb. 17th’s hearing will be held at the Warren County court of New York State Supreme Court at Warren County Municipal Center. Arguments will begin at 10 a.m. The session is open to the public.