Warning issued over contaminated creek

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – A new public health assessment from the New York State Department of Health warns people to stay away from the soil and sediment near Eighteenmile Creek in Niagara County.

Experts say touching and handling the soil around the creek could harm people’s health. The report also offers a stern message for fishermen to avoid eating any fish from the creek.

PHOTOS |  You can see photos of Eighteenmile Creek and learn more about the situation here

Eighteenmile Creek runs north from Lockport to Lake Ontario. News 4 Investigates first told you about the danger along the creek last year. The EPA named the site a Superfund site in 2012. A congressional mandate forced the state to create this assessment because the site is on the National Priorities List (NPL),

LEARN MORE | Read the state’s report

Decades of industrial use led to higher than acceptable levels of PCBS or polychlorinated biphenyls as well as lead, arsenic and chromium. State scientists suggest arsenic and chromium levels create a “moderate risk for cancer.” Those frightening findings are based on samples from families’ backyards. The EPA admits pinpointing the sole source of contamination will be tough, perhaps impossible.

It’s worried neighbor Shirley Nicholas for years. “I want to get those people out.. They all got children, there’s all this contamination,” Nicholas said in August 2013.

News 4 investigates was there in September of last year when workers hired by the EPA started installing a clean soil cover at five homes along Water Street. It should limit exposure to contamination.

Roy Mason represents the families who live there. He wants immediate action. “They have been exposed. Teir children have been exposed to these toxic substances from living in their homes and walking in their yards,” Mason said in 2013.

The state report says there is, “a special concern for children playing and people gardening at these contaminated properties.” They should avoid, “…touching or handling contaminated soils and sediments.” The highest lead level detected in a backyard was nearly 12 times what’s recommended.

The feds are in the process of buying the properties of the five families closest to the creek.

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