Call it a red flag. Or a red .. something.
It turns out the mysterious red substance found in the Mohawk River last week near Maalwyck Park in West Glenville may have been something as relatively benign as red latex paint dumped into a municipal sewer system, and not discharge from a contaminated industrial site in the Glenville Business and Technology Park.
Officials initially pointed to the tech park because the red chemical was found to contain "numerous volatile organic compounds of unknown origin" and because the spill appeared to originate near the area.
But regardless of the actual source of this particular compound, the discovery of the material spotlights the fact that the 65-acre industrial park site — the old Scotia Navy Depot property owned by the federal General Services Administration — has yet to be cleaned up after decades of inaction.
An underground toxic plume beneath the property contains chemical degreasers and other materials dating back to the Vietnam War. Among the chemicals in the plume is suspected-cancer-contributor, trichloroethylene.
Local officials have been trying to get the site cleaned up. But so far, little work has been done. Money for cleanup and monitoring, nearly $16 million, is included in President Obama's proposed budget.
Without action, cancer-related agents potentially could find their way into the river, threatening public recreation, drinking water supplies and development.
This opportune appearance of a red flag should compel our local, state and federal representatives to renew their pressure to take care of this problem once and for all.