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Public input sought for WWII Niagara County cleanup site

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

It has been more than 70 years since the end of World War II, but that does not mean debris of the war's industrial production has gone away.

A vast swath of Niagara County farms in the towns of Lewiston and Porter was seized by the government for war production and much of it is still the subject of study and cleanup.

The Army Corps of Engineers has a plan for the cleanup of about three acres of the 7,500 acres of what was once theLake Ontario Ordnance Works. The plan involves digging up and hauling away TNT waste and lead contamination on land owned by Occidental Chemical. Project Manager Brent LaSpada said Washington, D.C. is paying the tab because that land was used for defense work.

"That site originally was where there was TNT produced for World War II. That's why for the purposes of this portion of the property is under our FUDS program, that's our Formerly Utilized Defense Site," LaSpada said. "That's essentially where we have a program where we go in and clean these things out and remediate these things for the purposes of human health and environment."

LaSpada said what is different about this project is that the decision was made to dig up and haul away the contaminated soil to a licensed disposal area. He said that was the best and least expensive solution.

"That's one of the good news stories with this,m" he explained. "We looked at six different alternatives, including a no-action alternative for this remediation. The alternative we're going forward with is actually the least expensive. It's being estimated it's going to be just under $850,000, which is the least expensive alternative we examined, and, across the board, it's the most effective, long-term and short-term."

It could start before the end of next year. There is a public meeting January 11 in the Lewiston Senior Citizens Center to talk about the plans.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.