EPA approves removal of sediment along contaminated creek

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Environmental activists in Niagara County are celebrating the EPA’s decision to move forward with phase two of cleaning up the Eighteen Mile Creek Superfund site.

The agency announced the signing of a “record of decision” Tuesday for the $23 million dollar project. News 4 Investigates has tracked the toxic trouble for years.

This particular phase focuses on the sediment along a one mile stretch from Upson Park, north to Harwood Street. “It’s very good news for the people in Lockport,” regional EPA spokesperson Mike Basile told News 4.

Neighbor Shirley Nicholas has long championed this creek clean-up. “We got a lot more work to do, but I probably won’t live long enough to see it. I wish I could see it cleaned up all the way to Lake Ontario,” Nicholas said in 2015.

We spoke to her as workers tore down the old Flintkote Plant cross the street from her house. “Shirley always is very, very vocal. She has snapped the suspenders of agencies, including ours, many times,” Basile recalled.

This record of decision allows the EPA to work with US Army Corps of Engineers to target decades of industrial contamination. “They will develop a work plan. It’ll have to be a multi-faceted plan. They’ll have to look at all of those properties.”

This work will involve the park, the former Flintkote site, White Transportation Property and the former United Paper Company.

The feds already paid to relocate five families and tear down their homes. The concern involves potentially cancer-causing PCB’s and heavy metals buried in the creek’s sediment.

Basile says a lot of the soil will be excavated; some will be capped. “A lot of it will probably go to landfills locally. If it’s hazardous waste, then it has to go to a hazardous waste landfill.”

Basile is quick to caution, although the EPA has approved the remedial work, funding still must be identified. He expects construction to start in the summer of 2018.

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