Lewiston residents favor plan to remove contaminated soil from former WW2 defense site

LEWISTON, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Army Corps of Engineers is getting closer to cleaning up a World War II defense site in the Town of Lewiston.

Some people living in Lewiston are sighing with relief after a meeting Wednesday night.

“I would use the one word, finally, but I hope I’m alive to see it happen,” said Richard Soluri, resident of Lewiston.

Some people have been living pretty close to a 7,500acre site that contains toxins that may cause harm to their health and the environment.

“We found that the concentrations of TNT and lead at the site could pose potential risks if the site were redeveloped for more intensive uses than it’s used for today,” said Karen Keil, environmental toxicologist.

Today that site is vacant, but it was used as an explosives manufacturing facility during World War II.

People have had concerns about TNT and lead and the long term effects for years.

“A lot of the people are dead. Most of them suffered from cancers or some strange disease,” said David Ellsworth, resident.

After more than 70 years there’s now a plan to remove the impacted soil.

“We’re going to be doing a digging and hauling of the TNT and the lead that’s in the soil, so we’re going to be cleaning it out, taking it out and taking it to a certified facility for disposal,” said Brent Laspada, Project Manager for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Option 4 is the most preferred out of the five options proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Option 4 removes all the waste, and is seen as the safest, most effective and cheapest.

Some residents hope by taking this step, Lewiston can move on from a problem that’s been there for decades.

“This is a very positive meeting, but it’s an awful long time coming. I think it will change the whole complexion of this area once everything is contained and removed to a safe site,” said Soluri.

Officials told News 4 the TNT on the site is no longer explosive and nobody is in immediate danger.

Environmentalist’s say it does pose potential risks if someone redeveloped the site, without removing the waste.

The project is expected to start in 2018 and finish by 2020.

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