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For Release: Monday, January 22, 2018

DEC Announces Results of Comprehensive Sampling at Niagara Sanitation Landfill Finds No Off-Site Exposure to Contaminants

State to Host Public Availability Session to Share Investigation Results and Answer Community Questions

DEC Evaluating Next Steps for On-Site Improvements

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that DEC has completed its comprehensive investigation of the Niagara Sanitation Landfill in the town of Wheatfield. Results of expanded surface soil, subsurface soil, and groundwater sampling conducted at properties both on- and off-site, indicate that landfill contaminants do not present an off-site exposure concern to neighboring properties.

DEC is currently preparing a Remedial Investigation Report to summarize its findings and will share the results of its comprehensive investigation with community residents and other stakeholders at a public availability session this spring. Attendees at the session will have the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns.

"Across the State, DEC works closely with communities to actively investigate contamination and take any necessary actions to protect public health and the environment. The results of DEC's ongoing investigation of the Niagara Sanitation Landfill should be welcome news for the Wheatfield community," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Governor Cuomo has made getting to the bottom of this situation a priority to protect the public and provide residents with the peace of mind that comes with having the most accurate information available. The supplemental results announced today confirm DEC's initial on-site sampling data and show no off-site contamination."

DEC's investigation included:

  • Digging 18 test trenches and installing 13 borings around the perimeter of the landfill to confirm the boundary of the waste disposal area. These trenches confirmed that waste disposal areas do not extend beyond the boundaries 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' water is publicly supplied and not drawn from private wells.
  • Collecting 11 surface water and 10 sediment samples from low lying areas on and immediately adjacent to the landfill. 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) exceeded soil cleanup objectives typical of former municipal and industrial dump sites.
  • 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 samples indicate no off-site impacts from the landfill to surface soils. On-site surface soil sampling results indicate much of the surface of the landfill has not been, or is minimally, impacted by landfill contaminants. Certain small and isolated areas of the landfill where soil cleanup objectives were exceeded have been identified and will be addressed as part of the Feasibility Study, the next step in the remedial process, where various remedial alternatives will be identified, screened and evaluated.

The study and resulting report are anticipated to be completed this year and will provide an opportunity for public review and comment on proposed alternatives.

The Niagara Sanitation Landfill operated from 1955 to 1968 and accepted various wastes from the surrounding community, including nearby industries. In 1968, the 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 generated by the Hooker Chemical Company, now the Occidental Chemical Corporation.

DEC performed three investigations of the site in the 1980s, and determined that no contamination had migrated from the site. DEC initiated a reevaluation of the landfill in 2013, and discovered that on-site areas of exposed contaminated materials were present necessitating a reclassification to a Class 2 Superfund site in December 2015. Occidental 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 recently completed construction of a perimeter fence around the landfill to limit unauthorized access and potential exposure to surface soils. DEC and DOH will continue to monitor the landfill to ensure that the public health and the environment are protected.

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