Leddy Beach in Burlington remains closed after a nearby chemical spill

“There has been a recent discharge of chemicals into this beach area which may pose a public health hazard. Cleaning and remediation is ongoing,” a notice on a closed sign on Lady Beach in Burlington said Friday, September 23. Photo by Patrick Crowley/VTDigger

Lady Beach in Burlington’s New North End remained closed Friday after a chemical leaked nearby two days earlier, according to the city’s Department of Public Works.

Roughly one gallon of styrene, a carcinogen, was mixed with about 50 gallons of steam condensate used in storm drain work on Dell Road on Wednesday, Robert Golding, a spokesman for the department, said. Contractors performing the work inadvertently allowed the steam byproduct to escape into a drain that led to a stream flowing into Lake Champlain near Lady Beach.

Golding said the beach may remain closed for in-water recreation at least until Monday, when the city expects the results of water tests.

Golding said a member of the public initially detected “milky secretions and foam” in the stream below the bike path in Lady Park on Wednesday. He said the state Natural Resources Agency was alerted about the spill, and clean-up efforts began immediately.

According to the agency’s database on environmental spills, city workers and contractors used spill absorbent kits to try to prevent the drain from reaching the lake, and the water was tested at multiple locations near the stream. When the state crews returned to Lady Beach a day later, they noticed a gleam in a part of the lagoon within a sandbar, but noticed that the absorbent booms seemed to have captured any oil.

Golding said contractors were relying on stormwater drains, as part of an ongoing effort to remediate aging infrastructure. Public Works plans to investigate the spill to understand how it happened, but Golding said the work is important and allows the city to repair old pipes without much break-in and at a lower cost.

“We want to keep doing this work to make sure our tubes don’t have other potentially worse problems, should they break or have any,” he said.

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