Together with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and local and federal partners, the U.S. EPA announces the removal of the Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproduction Problems Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) at the Rochester Embayment Area of Concern (AOC). BUIs are designations created by the International Joint Commission that represent different types of significant environmental degradation. See Beneficial Use Impairments for the Great Lakes AOCs to learn more.
Target criteria for removing this BUI focused on reducing contaminants in the AOC to levels below those known to be harmful to reproduction of the local mink population. Project work for removal of this BUI was substantially funded by the GLRI. Work included contaminated sediment remediation performed by NYSDEC in conjunction with extensive research and monitoring of mink conducted by local partners. Research efforts included testing mink and mink prey tissue samples for levels of harmful contaminants as well as capturing video to detect the presence of adult and juvenile mink at sites throughout the AOC.
Research partners at SUNY Brockport observed mink present and successfully reproducing within the Rochester Embayment AOC, meeting part of the criteria set for BUI removal by the state of New York. Data from tissue analysis provided additional support for removal of this BUI, as contaminant levels were below the threshold documented in the scientific literature to cause reproductive harm in mink and determined unlikely to exceed this threshold under current conditions. These factors were the primary indicators that the removal target criteria have been met. The BUI was removed from this AOC on September 16th, 2022.
This BUI was the second impairment to be removed from this AOC in 2022, leaving only one BUI remaining – Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat. When all designated BUIs have been removed, the Rochester Embayment will be eligible for delisting as an AOC.