Black River PCBs

The Black River PCBs site consists of polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated sediment that was derived, in part, from wastewater discharged from the Carthage/West Carthage Water Pollution Control Facility (the sewage treatment plant).

Tanneries, paper mills and other industries operated along the Black River in the Villages of Carthage and West Carthage since the 1890s, and may have contributed to PCB contamination in the river. Two active paper mills, one inactive paper mill, a machine shop, the Carthage/West Carthage Sewage Treatment Plant, and a hydroelectric power plant are currently located along the Black River in the Villages of Carthage and West Carthage.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report that some local residents use the Black River for recreation such as canoeing, kayaking, and swimming, and that people reportedly fish in the Black River and eat their catch.

Public Health Assessment

The New York State Department of Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry complete a Public Health Assessment for every site in New York that is proposed to the National Priority List, also known as the federal Superfund list. In a Public Health Assessment, the health agencies review information about hazardous substances at a site and evaluate whether exposure to those substances might cause harm to human health. A Public Comment Draft Public Health Assessment for the Black River PCB site was released on July 1, 2015. The Department considered public comments and finalized the Public Health Assessment in October 2016.

For this Public Health Assessment, we evaluated environmental data collected in:

  • 1996-1997,2002, and 2011 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and

  • 2009 and 2010 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

We are only evaluating data that are available for a specific segment of the Black River that constitutes the National Priorities List site and consists of areas immediately upstream of the Carthage/West Carthage Sewage Treatment Plant to the Herrings boat launch, which is about three miles downstream.

The following document has been prepared for the Black River PCBs site:

To obtain copies of this document, either email us at or call (518) 402-7860. or write to us at:

Center for Environmental Health
Bureau of Environmental Exposure Investigation
Empire State Plaza-Corning Tower, Room 1787
Albany, New York 12237

A copy of the document is also available at: