BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is warning Buffalonians to avoid the water in Scajaquada Creek and Black Rock Canal due to a coal tar spill.

The DEC’s Spill Response Unit is starting to clean up coal tar and other hazards from entering the lower Scajaquada from a pumphouse at Niagara Street near the outlet to the Black Rock Canal.

DEC officials are warning the public not to have any contact with these waterways and not to eat fish from either. The Black Rock Canal is known as a ‘Class C’ waterbody — meaning its water is not recommended for recreational activities.

“DEC’s investigation of the lower Scajaquada Creek revealed coal tar and dense non-aqueous phase liquid in sediments from West Avenue downstream to the mouth of the stream and in the inlet area created when the main stem of Scajaquada Creek was redirected as part of the highway construction to its current configuration,” a news release noted.

T&R Environmental is serving as a DEC Spill Response contractor for the next several weeks.

Here’s a look at the work they’ll be doing:

  • Removing and replacing existing booms in areas near the pump station and inlet to prevent sheen migration into the creek;
  • Water sampling to evaluate for potential surface water contamination;
  • Cleaning and reinforcing sealant on pump house stormwater collection infrastructure to prevent contaminant infiltration;
  • Inspecting and evaluating subsurface infrastructure for potential infiltration of contaminants;
  • Managing and treating contaminated groundwater; and
  • Treating and properly disposing of contaminated coal tar and sediment.

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Patrick Ryan is a JANY award-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.