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For Release: Tuesday, March 5, 2019

DEC Releases Final Remedial Investigation Report for Niagara Sanitation Landfill, Confirms No Off-Site Exposure to Landfill Contaminants

DEC to Host Public Availability Session Saturday, March 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Wheatfield Community Center

Study Underway to Evaluate Long-Term Management Plan of Landfill Waste

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced DEC has completed its report detailing the comprehensive investigation of the Niagara Sanitation Landfill in the town of Wheatfield. The report includes the results of DEC's expanded sampling of surface soil, subsurface soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater at the site, which confirms that landfill contaminants do not present an off-site exposure concern to neighboring properties.

Commissioner Seggos said, " DEC works closely with communities across the State to investigate contamination and take all necessary actions to protect public health and the environment. The report on our comprehensive investigation of the Niagara Sanitation Landfill finds no off-site exposure to landfill contaminants. Governor Cuomo directed DEC to aggressively investigate this site to ensure the public is protected and provide this community with peace of mind that there is no off-site contamination."

DEC has completed a Remedial Investigation report that summarizes the investigation findings, and will hold a public availability session to address questions from residents regarding the comprehensive results on Saturday, March 30, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Wheatfield Community Center, 2790 Church Road, Wheatfield, NY 14120. This meeting is wheelchair accessible. For special accommodations or more information, contact DEC's regional office at 716-851-7201.

DEC's additional investigation of this site included:

  • Collecting 39 on-site surface soil samples across the landfill property, and 26 off-site surface soil samples from properties adjacent to the landfill, including 22 residential properties. Off-site sample results indicate there are no off-site impacts in surface soils. On-site surface soil sampling results indicate much of the landfill surface has not been, or is minimally, impacted by landfill contaminants. Certain small and isolated areas of the landfill where results exceeded soil cleanup objectives were identified and will be addressed as part of the next step in the cleanup process, where various remedial alternatives will be identified and evaluated.
  • Digging 18 test trenches and installing 13 machine-driven and 52 hand-driven borings around the perimeter of the landfill to confirm the boundary of the waste disposal area. These trenches/borings verified that waste disposal areas do not extend beyond the landfill property boundaries, except for an area of municipal waste placed along the gas line right-of-way to the west of the landfill property.
  • Collecting 63 groundwater samples from 43 monitoring wells installed in and around waste materials buried in the landfill. Groundwater samples collected from the perimeter of the landfill property demonstrate groundwater is minimally impacted by low-level contaminants typical in urban areas. These low levels are not a public health concern because there is no exposure pathway. Community residents are served by a public water supply and do not use water drawn from private wells.
  • Collecting 11 surface water and 10 sediment samples from low-lying areas on and immediately adjacent to the landfill. Sampling confirmed that surface water and sediment are not significantly impacted by landfill contaminants.
  • Collecting 58 samples of subsurface soil and waste on the landfill property. Various metals and poly cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were detected at concentrations typical of former municipal and industrial dump sites.

DEC is currently evaluating alternatives for long-term management of waste within the landfill.

The Niagara Sanitation Landfill, which operated from 1955 to 1968, accepted various wastes from the surrounding community, including nearby industries. In 1968, the New York State Department of Transportation used a portion of the landfill to dispose of contaminated soils generated during construction of the LaSalle Expressway. These soils were later determined to be contaminated by Love Canal waste.

DEC and the State Department of Health (DOH) performed several investigations of the site in the 1980s and 1990s, which determined the site did not pose a significant threat to public health and the environment. DEC initiated a reevaluation of the landfill in 2013, and discovered that on-site areas of exposed waste and elevated surficial contaminant concentrations were present, necessitating a reclassification to a Class 2 Superfund site in December 2015. The reclassification requires a full comprehensive remedial investigation be performed at the site. Occidental (formerly Hooker Chemical) entered into a Consent Order with DEC and voluntarily removed the Love Canal-related waste in 2014 and 2015 for disposal at an approved, out-of-state facility. The town of Wheatfield completed construction of a perimeter fence around the landfill to limit unauthorized access and potential exposure to surface soils.

DEC and DOH continue to monitor the landfill to ensure public health and the environment are protected.

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