Monday, April 17, 2017

Testing for Contamination to Be Conducted at Wheatfield Landfill

Governor Andrew Cuomo today directed the New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health to expand ongoing investigations of the former Niagara Sanitation Landfill in order to ensure no contamination is impacting nearby residential properties. DEC is working with the town of Wheatfield to immediately expand its landfill sampling investigation to include both soil and groundwater testing in surrounding residential properties to ensure contamination has been contained to the landfill. Additionally, the Department of Health, the Niagara County Water District, and the Wheatfield Municipal Water System continue to monitor the public water supply, which has not been impacted by the contamination.

In March 2017, DEC initiated a new investigation of the full nature and extent of on-site contamination and to confirm that no contamination has migrated from the site. DEC’s expanded investigation will now verify preliminary results indicating that residential properties are not impacted by the landfill. In addition to the ongoing collection of soil and groundwater samples throughout the landfill, additional samples will be collected on residential properties to determine whether offsite migration of contaminants has occurred.  The results of this survey will guide any necessary remediation actions.

"New York is committed to ensuring communities across the state have safe, reliable access to drinking water, and I am directing DEC to expand their investigation and ensure no contamination from the Niagara Sanitation Landfill is impacting nearby residential properties," Governor Cuomo said. "This investigation will move quickly and thoroughly to ensure that there are no impacts to surrounding homes from the landfill."

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Protecting public health and the environment is DEC’s top priority, and we will rapidly investigate and identify the nature and extent of the contamination this spring, including collecting samples on residential properties. After this expanded investigation is complete, any necessary cleanup options will be identified and implemented expeditiously to safeguard this community."

Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, DOH has worked tirelessly to ensure clean drinking water in communities all across New York State. Aggressive sampling programs, like the one that’s working to protect residents here in Western New York, are critical to providing the quality drinking water New Yorkers deserve."

Sampling will begin as soon as access is granted by property owners and is anticipated to take place within the next month and will start with residences that border the landfill property along Forbes Street and Forbes Terrace. Additional properties may be considered but will be dependent on residential results.

The Niagara Sanitation Landfill, which was in operation from 1955 to 1968, accepted various wastes from the surrounding community, including nearby industries. In 1968, the New York State Department of Transportation used a portion of the landfill to dispose of contaminated soils generated during construction of the LaSalle Expressway. These soils were later determined to be contaminated by Love Canal waste generated by the Hooker Chemical Company, now the Occidental Chemical Corporation. DEC performed three investigations in the 1980s, which determined that no contamination had migrated from the site. DEC initiated a reevaluation of the landfill in 2013, and discovered that areas of exposed contaminated materials were present necessitating a reclassification to a Class 2 Superfund site in December 2015 to ensure this additional contamination is addressed. Occidental entered into a Consent Order with the DEC and voluntarily removed the Love Canal-related waste in 2014 and 2015 for disposal in an approved facility.

 To protect the public from potential exposure of materials at the landfill property, the town of Wheatfield, the landfill’s current owner, is in the process of constructing a fence with $75,000 in funds approved this week by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. DEC is assisting in preconstruction clearing to expedite construction of a fence and reduce the town’s costs. The clearing work is expected to be completed this spring.

The town of Wheatfield is served by public water from the West Branch of the Niagara River and purchased from the Niagara County Water District. Testing under the EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule between 2013 and 2015 found no detections of concern.  Sampling as recent as February 2017, for organic contaminants traditionally associated with landfills, also returned non-detectable levels. DEC and DOH will continue to monitor the landfill and surrounding residences to ensure that the public health and the environment are protected.

The Governor is also directing DEC and DOH to keep the community informed throughout the investigation. DEC and DOH will host a public information session this spring to provide residents with the opportunity to discuss the investigation with state officials, as well as to share any sampling that has been collected on their properties. Anyone with information helpful to the state’s ongoing investigation is encouraged to contact DEC officials here or Project Manager Glenn May at the Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Environmental Remediation at 270 Michigan Avenue in Buffalo or at 716-851-7220 with any relevant data.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

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