People living near a Cheektowaga landfill where construction debris from a radioactive-waste cleanup site was dumped want the landfill closed and blasting stopped at a nearby stone quarry until public health concerns can be evaluated.
Environmental activist Donna Hosmer, who lives near the landfill on Indian Road near Broadway, said neighbors are skeptical of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' claim that the metal, concrete and other debris cleared from the former Linde Air Products site is nonhazardous and nonradioactive.
"I, for one, don't believe them. We're totally disgusted with the whole government system," she said.
The Bellevue area of Cheektowaga where Hosmer lives is home to one of Western New York's largest and busiest stone quarries and is just south of three landfills -- two of them closed hazardous-waste sites.
An informal survey in the Bellevue area last spring turned up seemingly high incidences of cancer, respiratory and autoimmune diseases. It triggered two ongoing health studies -- one of respiratory illnesses and another of the cancer cases reported in the area.
"We don't want one more child with a breathing disorder or one more man cut down in his prime by a blood disease," Hosmer said.
The Corps of Engineers initially reported dumping about 25 tons of debris at the Integrated Waste Systems-Schultz landfill in 1998. More recently, the corps said the actual amount was about 6 tons, with the other 19 tons actually going to a landfill in Erie, Pa.
"This is the first time this has been done in a residential area, and they don't know what's going to happen. Why do we have to be guinea pigs?" Hosmer asked.
Hosmer said neighbors are planning demonstrations to demand that the Schultz landfill be closed so the debris from Linde can be located and tested.
"We think we have the right to know just what is and isn't in there," she said.
She said community activists also want blasting halted at the nearby Buffalo Crushed Stone quarry because of concerns that the tremors could accelerate seepage from buried waste into the area's water table and nearby Cayuga Creek. The Town Board's senior member, Thomas M. Johnson Jr., told angry neighbors last week that he would ask the town Law Department to check whether the town has the power to shut down the landfill or quarry.
Town Attorney Michael J. Stachowski said the town lacks the legal standing to shut down businesses operating with legal state and federal permits. "If the corps dumped something in there, then it's the (state's) obligation to take a look at it and, if warranted, bring an action to force a cleanup," Stachowski said.
Told that neighbors want the landfill closed for tests of the Linde debris, Gregory P. Photiadis, an attorney representing Integrated Waste Systems, said, "You're talking to the wrong guy."
Space in that part of the landfill still accepting waste was purchased by Casella Waste Management of New York some time ago, he said.
But Vincent J. Grandinetti, Western region engineer for Casella, said: "We simply bought the rights to . . . space. Casella is not the (state) permit holder. We don't control the operation."