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April 18, 2013

Long-term solution eyed for Dannemora salt problems

LEDGERS CORNERS — It was another rough winter for some residents of Ledgers Corners.

The small, close-knit community in the Dannemora hamlet near Chazy Lake not only battled the record-breaking North Country winter but a second frigid season without safe drinking water.

“It’s been a nightmare,” said Cheryle Saltmarsh, who shares a home with Jeff King on the corner of Route 374 and Plank Road, the area where several houses have been affected by salt contamination believed to be linked to a nearby New York State Department of Transportation salt shed.

“We still do not have water. It’s ridiculous we have to deal with this.”

TEST RESULTS

After more than a decade of local suspicion about the source, an official state investigation into the contamination was launched in early 2012. About four dozen wells have been tested so far.

According to a DOT report filed with the town last month, 18 of the sampled wells had high levels of chloride (a form of salt), two contained unacceptable levels of coliform bacteria, and three showed detectable levels of cyanide, reportedly an inert form contained in a compound that prevents caking in salt.

A map tracking the study shows the location of 77 wells, with 25 property owners failing so far to reply to the sampling request, six denying access and at least eight with results pending.

Officials said the well at the DOT sub-residency shed was also sampled, with the sodium and chloride levels coming within acceptable limits.

Testing — with the Clinton County Department of Health conducting tests outside the DOT’s sampling area — continues, with at least two dozen other properties, mostly summer residences, still unchecked.

“They’re not moving fast enough,” said Saltmarsh, who helped organize neighbors in search of answers and a solution.

“We’re making some progress, but it’s been really slow.”

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