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DEC watching Waterfront digging

Mike Desmond/WBFO

With school out, construction workers are digging  near the Blue Cross-Blue Shield headquarters and Waterfront School.

For decades in Buffalo's boom years, there were slips off the Erie Canal where the buildings are now carrying coal to plants which turned it into manufactured gas for street lights and other early uses of gas.

The plants produced very toxic and carcinogenic coal tar waste, with much of it just dumped on the ground or in the water.

For development, there have been several projects digging up the material and hauling it away for safety. Now, there is new digging monitored by the State Environmental Conservation Department.

Regional Remediation Engineer Martin Doster says other ways of dealing with the remaining waste didn't work.

"The contractors knew about this at the time and they elected to try to treat it and see if it responded," Doster said.  "And it didn't respond in the way that we all felt was the best way possible."

Doster says the material will be dug out and hauled away, with five-to-ten truckloads removed by the end of the month.

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.