Public comment period for landfill extended


With radiation test results expected shortly, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers again has extended the public comment period on its proposed plan for the Town of Tonawanda landfill. The deadline now is Aug. 23.

The Corps has recommended "no action" regarding remediation of the landfill, which was found to contain radioactive materials similar to those used locally in nuclear weapons research dating back to the 1940s. Human health risks posed by the materials meet the guidelines of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Corps maintains, and can remain safely in place as the landfill is capped.

In response to residents' fears about off-site contamination, the state Department of Environmental Conservation recently tested for radiation along Hackett Drive in the City of Tonawanda, which is along the northern border of the landfill. Additional testing was done at nearby Riverview Elementary School.

The results are under analysis and a final report is pending.

Copyright 2007 The Buffalo News.

NOTE: Before Congress gave USACE the responsibility for cleaning up the remaining FUSRAP properties in 1997, the Energy Department had determined in 1993 that 15,200 cubic yards of radioactively contaminated soils should be removed from the Tonawanda Landfill property according to radiological protection standards that USACE has chosen to ignore. USACE is using the EPA's flexible CERCLA (Superfund) process at the direction of Congress. Specifically, USACE has applied an exposure scenario that assumes very limited use of this property, an assumption which is inappropriate for this residential area.