DEC releases some Wheatfield landfill soil test results

WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB)- The DEC has released preliminary results of soil tests around the former Niagara Sanitation Landfill in Wheatfield.

Months ago, neighbors filed a lawsuit against the Town of Wheatfield, Niagara Sanitation Company and a number of manufacturing companies which disposed of waste at the site. They say contamination from the landfill made them sick.

Governor Cuomo ordered surface soil testing this spring. The DEC said Monday those tests show “contamination has not migrated from the landfill to surface soils on neighboring properties.”

The DEC tested soil at 22 homes and one commercial property near the landfill. The tests looked at the top two inches of soil and samples were analyzed for levels of metals, PCBs, pesticides. herbicides and semi-volatile organic compounds.

The DEC says data, confirmed by a third party lab, shows contaminate levels were within acceptable limits.

“It validates the testing that’s been going on since 1981,” said Bob Cliffe, the Wheatfield Town Supervisor.

The landfill is on Nash Rd. in Wheatfield, just past the North Tonawanda city line.

It holds toxic industrial waste. Love Canal waste was removed a few years ago.

“There’s bound to be more work done but this is nice validation that after 49 years, still to this day, material is not going off the grounds,” said Cliffe.

The legal team representing the homeowners, however, told News 4 the DEC only tested surface soil, which is not how homes are being contaminated.

“It’s not in the runoff on the surface, it’s likely coming from groundwater,” said Attorney Mike Stag. “You have water that’s underground that’s being sucked into the sump pump and that’s transporting it into the homes.”

His legal team did their own testing in homes and said they found cancer causing chemicals.

The DEC’s test results were sent to homeowners last week.

In a press release the DEC said the tests, “confirm that no contamination from the landfill is impacting surface soils on nearby properties.”

“From what I’ve seen from some of the data, there was an impact but they’re saying it was not high enough level to where it would reach a regulatory requirement,” said Stag.

He argues any chemical level will have an impact.

The Department now plans to test groundwater this summer, and dig a trench around the perimeter of the property to verify no waste was store outside of the landfill.

“If they do the right types of tests and they test the right places, I think they’re going to find the same things we found,” said Stag.

The DEC said once all of the tests are finished they will put together a report for the public. The DEC will then hold an information session to answer any questions about the report.

The Town of Wheatfield is also moving forward with plans to put a fence around the landfill. Cliffe told News 4 he expects project bids to be in on Monday, they hope to build the fence this year.

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