LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Dozens of concerned residents marched outside of the old Bethlehem Steel Mill, looking to bring about change for their community and the environment.
“For 100 years nobody cared about Lackawanna,” John Nowak, co-founder “Politicians don’t care. The DEC didn’t care. it takes a lot of work to get them to start caring again.”
Nowak and others from the area formed an organization called Citizens United for a Clean Lackawanna Waterfront with the goal to do just that — help improve the lakeshore in the area. Their main concern is cleaning up toxin they say a local plant is burying just 140 feet away from the water.
“Our concern here is that those toxins will spill into Lake Erie and contaminate the largest drinking source of water for the people of Western New York,” said Michael Derrick, a member of the organization.
Derrick says he has done research and looked at plans for an improved, toxin-free waterfront. He says the reports show, if the water does become contaminated, around 15 million people’s water supply’s will be compromised.
“This is something that can be easily fixed,” said Derrick. “If Buffalo got a billion dollars for a renaissance; how come we can’t get a few million here to clean up our waterfront?”
Derrick referred to Lackawanna as the step-child to Buffalo, saying the funding and more support would help fix the problem. He says he reached out the DEC multiple times about the issue to which they replied they didn’t have enough resources. Derrick says he thinks if the issue was taken seriously, it would take just nine months to rectify it.
He’s getting involved with the organization now and protesting for a better waterfront and community before it is too late.
“We’re here to join forces with this community because we’re concerned not only for ourselves but our children and the generations to come.”