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CLEANUP OF BATTERIES GOING WELL AT LAKE POWELL

Cleanup of hundreds of old boat batteries dumped into Lake Powell is proceeding as planned, and no health hazards have surfaced in the water, according to a new report.

The U.S. Interior Department inspector general just released the report, adding that the National Park Service and ARA Leisure Services - Lake Powell's main concessionaire - are taking adequate steps to see that such pollution does not recur.That comes a year after the inspector blasted ARA and other boat operators for discarding hundreds of boat batteries, chemicals and other equipment into the lake for at least seven years and blasted the Park Service for not having stopped it.

The original study also called for the Park Service to determine whether the lake should be closed due to health hazards posed by the lead in batteries and other chemicals dumped into the lake.

The new study said, "Based on water-quality tests performed by the Park Service and water-quality data provided by other federal agencies, the Park Service determined that Lake Powell was safe for recreational use."

It added, "We found the Park Service was working with the states of Arizona and Utah and other federal agencies to develop a water and sediment samplingprogram to monitor water quality within Lake Powell."

The study said the assistant superintendent of Glen Canyon Recreation Area, which contains Lake Powell, reported "at least 500 batteries had been removed from Lake Powell since the problem was identified."

To help ensure such dumping does not recur, the study said the park service now has divers inspecting rental boat docks and marina slips three times a year.

It also said ARA has implemented policies to require an exchange of spent batteries for all new batteries it buys or sells.

It said ARA was also working with a battery maker to inscribe special serial numbers to allow ARA to track and monitor the status of each battery so that the park service can test the batter inventory occasionally to ensure disposal is proper.

The original study also identified other problems at Lake Powell, including private owners leasing houseboats without authorization or paying concession fees and boaters not covering the costs of pump-out facilities - which it said cost the Park Service $400,000 annually.

The update study said the Park Service is also making adequate progress to address those problems.

"Our current review found that the Park Service has initiated an effort to collect recreation user fees (for pump-out facilities at the lake) . . . and has requested funding through the appropriation process to hire additional fee collection personnel," the study said.

It said the Park Service also requested more funding to "hire additional rangers and investigators to monitor and control houseboat rental activities. The Park Service is implementing interim actions which it believes will reduce the unauthorized rental of houseboats until the rangers and investigators can be hired."