Radioactive cleanup stage called critical

The Buffalo News: Niagara County: Radioactive cleanup stage called critical

By Aaron Besecker –   Font

LEWISTON — The investigation into contamination at the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works is entering an important phase that will impact cleanup plans that could carry a price tag of hundreds of millions of dollars.

So says an advisory group of community residents focused on the study of environmental problems at the former radiological waste site and former weapons production facility.

State and federal agencies updated the public on their investigations during a community meeting Saturday in the Lewiston Senior Center.

“This is a very critical time because at this earlier stage the decisions made, based on the data being reviewed now, will prepare the conclusions that will be coming up later,” said Walter D. Garrow, Restoration Advisory Board chairman.

Over the next several months, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to release reports that will lay the foundation for what happens to hundreds of acres in Lewiston and Porter.

The property includes a portion of the Northeast’s only hazardous waste commercial landfill and sits near Lewiston- Porter schools.

Members of the advisory board, who plan to review the reports, may have problems dealing with the “huge” volume of data, Garrow said. The board is looking for federal funding to hire a consultant to help with the review process.

“We may need extra resources in order to be able to do it,” Garrow said.

In December, the corps plans to make public a report on the nature and extent of contamination at the Niagara Falls Storage Site, a 191-acre section of the former ordnance works that includes an interim storage structure holding about 250,000 cubic yards of radioactive material.

A public meeting will discuss the report and accept comments, said William Kowalewski, corps project manager.

Agency officials Saturday said there is no current leakage of contaminants from the containment structure.

But that point was challenged by Bill Boeck, a Niagara University professor, who heads the advisory board’s Radiological Committee. He said it is impossible to determine whether there are or will be leaks because the integrity of what lies beneath cannot be known.

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