WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB)- A legal battle that has lasted almost 40 years continues in Wheatfield. People are demanding that a landfill that used to contain Love Canal waste be cleaned out.
Town Supervisor Robert Cliffe confirmed to News 4 that 16 identical notices of claim have been filed with the Town of Wheatfield, each for $60 million. He said the notices of claim say residents tested their properties in July and discovered chemical contamination, which they believe leached from the Niagara Sanitation Landfill. The residents claim it made them sick.
The town tells us these are just a notices of claim, the families have a year to make an actual claim.
Concerned residents spoke at a town board meeting Monday night.
“I’m concerned about those people,” said Julie Otto, a Wheatfield resident. “The money? Who cares? People’s lives are turned upside down on Forbes Terrace.”
She asked the town board if they expect more families to come forward with notices of claim. The town attorney responded that it is possible.
Supervisor Cliffe said he thinks it’s strange these families are coming forward with notices of claim now, after all of this time, but he does understand their concerns.
“I have nothing but compassion for anybody who is sick for any reason, let alone from chemicals the town might be or might not be complicit on, it’s a scary process for them,” he said.
Love Canal waste was moved to the landfill in the 1960’s. The DEC tested the landfill during 2012 and 2013 and determined the waste needed to be removed and destroyed. Eighty truckloads of Love Canal waste was removed from the landfill and now Supervisor Cliffe says the worst is gone. The remediation finished last year.
The landfill is still classified as a significant threat to public health. Supervisor Cliffe said that designation came from the EPA after the landfill was cleaned up and determined a Superfund site.
He told News 4 there are other chemicals on the site from waste from auto repair shops, batteries, and other sources.
The DEC is getting ready to do more testing this spring to see if the landfill needs to be cleaned out or a cap put on it.
“As far as everyone in the area is concerned, we want the entire dump cleaned out want it all taken out,” said Laurie Galbo, a Norman Road resident. “I do feel the town has a responsibility. I mean the town of Wheatfield to $1,000 in 1968 to have that waste dumped there, they have a responsibility.”
She told us her backyard backs up to the landfill.
“You have to get that fence up,” said Galbo.
She questioned the town board Monday ngiht about why it is taking so long for the town to put up a fence around the landfill.
Supervisor Cliffe said the town was at the site earlier in the day putting up about a dozen “no trespassing” signs up.
Cliffe explained the site belongs to the DEC now so they need DEC permission before moving ahead with the fence. He said it could take one to three more months for the grant process to finish. The grant needs approval before work can begin.
Cliffe said the town engineering department is working on a draft plan for the fence so they are ready once the fence is approved.
“There’s nothing I would love more than to put that fence up,” he said.