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Radioactive waste found at Niagara Falls State Park 'contained' and being removed

Omar Fetouh

Radioactive waste found in soil at the entrance to Niagara Falls State Park has been contained and will soon be removed. That's according to a spokesman for the state parks department.

The Buffalo News exposed the issue in an article today. The News reports tests by the Department of Environmental Conservation found low levels of radioactivity along with petroleum waste and traces of the cancer-causing chemical benzopyrene.

Parks spokesman Randy Simons said once such a discovery is made, steps for remediation begin immediately.

“Our typical protocol, is right after discovering this contaminated soil, we immediately notify the Department of Environmental Conservation. Obviously our contractors,” said Simons. “We jointly work with everyone to determine a course of action for removal and handling of these questionable materials.”

The radioactive waste was discovered by a contractor in May. There are no signs that clearly indicate to visitors what is contained at the site. Simons said the materials in the soil pose no risk to the health of the public.

“We have contained the pile and we are currently moving the pile to be handled and shipped out of state to an approved and licensed waste facility,” he said. “The sign might come down as we are tending to the pile to move it. But there are signs on the pile that indicate that this is a contaminate TENORM (technologically enhanced naturally occuring radioactive material). But nonetheless, the piles are contained.”

City Council Chairman Andrew Touma told the Buffalo News he presumes it isn’t a safety threat because nobody was notified over the past three months and is “hoping” that assumption is correct.

Many residents and local officials were not surprised. The city of Niagara Falls has a history dating over a half-century dealing with toxic pollution.

Simons said this won’t delay the $4.6 million entrance project from being completed next year.

“The discovery of the contained soil really hasn’t pushed it off. We are still expected to complete the project for the summer of 2019,” Simons said.

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