Sunday, March 9, 2008

Nuclear Lake

Nuclear Lake view photo by Ed Bacher


Nuclear Lake, in a hollow beneath West Mountain in Pawling, New York, is a beautiful spot with a troubled past.

When I was teaching physics at the Trinity-Pawling school in Pawling, the Appalachian Trail south of Pawling was a long roadwalk. The National Park Service bought a large parcel of woodland with the intent to reroute the trail. The process took several years however, because the property had been operated by the UNC (United Nuclear Corporation) and was the site of one of the few private uranium and plutonium research facilities in the United States. But nuclear research alone was not the main concern. In 1972, a chemical explosion blew out two windows in the north side of the laboratory, spewing an unknown amount of plutonium dust through the woods. United Nuclear cleaned up the property at a cost of $3 million, but local residents and Appalachian Trail hikers were concerned about the potential health risks.

In 1980, the old buildings and retention tanks were still there on the shore of Nuclear Lake, abandoned and decaying. Nearly 30 years later, the AT has been rerouted, and it now passes the site of the old laboratory and hugs the west shore of the lake. The old UNC sign and the buildings are gone now, though several large clearings remain.

Nuclear Lake shoreline photo by Ed Bacher

5 comments:

Debby said...

Is it now safe to swim in the lake? How about camping near by, would that be ok?

Ed Bacher said...

I cannot vouch for the safety of the lake, but it looks perfectly normal. There are some interesting fish tales here, and at least one guy who has been swimming and lived to tell the tale: http://www.fishingworks.com/lakes/new-york/dutchess/poughquag/nuclear-lake/

eds said...

Very much enjoyed your posts and photos of nuclear lake. Do you know how I can track down a copy of the report you refer to, Nuclear Lake: A Resource in Question? The few copies in the library system seem to be permanently on loan...

Also enjoyed your photos of Portland, ME, we spent a few days there earlier this summer. Great city.

Jordan said...

Is there any good fish in that lake that you took a picture of? I wouldn't mind a fish report if you could give one.

Frank said...

I have been investigating purchasing a farm about 3-4 miles east of the Lake, have been researching Pawling, Hurds Corner, the Oblong, the AT, this is the first negative I have found. Anyone have any comments.