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Another parcel of former TNT plant cleaned up

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Another small piece of what was once World War II's  Lake Ontario Ordnance Works near Lewiston in Niagara County has been cleaned up and returned to it wetland origin.

The federal government siezed a series of farms to make up the 7,500 acres for the TNT factory, only to see much more powerful explosives used in wartime. The manufacturing operation was shut down in 1943.

Part of the property was later used to store radium ore, a highly radioactive material. The 1.3 acres cleaned up in a newly completed project are near Balmer Road.

Credit U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

"It's just a standard remediation project. This is just par for the course," said Project Manager Brent LaSpada. "It's just overall an examination and from years of sampling. This is just one parcel that we've cleaned up."

LaSpada said 8,500 tons of TNT-contaminated material was dug up and hauled away to nearby Modern Landfill. He said it was cleaned up because the TNT residue was found.

"Basically, the site is dictated based from on a sampling effort," he said. "So the 1.3 acres is just the result of a sampled area and that was based on the contamination for this particular parcel."

While there were many buildings scattered across the explosives plant, LaSpada said there were no manufacturing buildings on this piece of land.

Credit U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

"This was used mostly as a disposal area for the manufacturing of the TNT," LaSpada said.

He said the site was re-filled and returned to its use before World War II came along.

"We just backfill with material," he said. "It's going back to be a wetland. It was a wetland, so we just backfilled with material that was approved and permitted from DEC and others and permitted to fill with approved material."

The cleanup of this enormous piece of land has been goin gon for years. In a couple of weeks, inspectors will go back to the area and see if the various grass seeds are taking hold for the wetland.

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.