More than three years after a chemical leak forced 10 families from their homes, the Environmental Protection Agency has approved a $1.3 million buyout plan that will allow residents to find permanent housing.
The EPA will buy eight houses in this Orleans County village, pay moving expenses and cover the loss of some contents, said Mike Basile, EPA spokesman. It also will help two tenants relocate.
"We're just happy we've been able to help these displaced residents," Basile said. "They've had a lot of patience, and we ask for just a little bit more. The end is near."
Over the next several months, the EPA will work with the Army Corps of Engineers to appraise the homes and contents.
Patrick and Patricia Dann are among those who fled Jan. 5, 2002, when Diaz Chemical unleashed 80 gallons of 2-chloro-6-fluorophenol, a foul-smelling compound. Since then the Danns have lived in hotels, apartments and a house in Brockport.
"We just want to live a normal life and have a permanent address we can call our own," Patricia Dann said Thursday. "We had an old house. It was a duplex, and I've had double utility bills for three years for a place that nobody's lived in."
"It's been a long three years," Anita Trupo, another displaced resident, said Thursday. "We've been fighting environmental issues since Diaz came here in 1974. I'm very apprehensive about what's coming down next."
"It's to their credit that they're doing this, but why only those eight?" said Andrew Saul, a retired science professor and activist who lives less than 1 1/2 blocks from the plant. "The concern right now is that there are more people living in contaminated houses. They should be buying more houses, probably 28."
Diaz abandoned the facility after declaring bankruptcy about two years ago. The EPA added it to the federal Superfund's national priorities list last July. The agency has shipped 8,080 drums of chemicals and 112,000 gallons of hazardous waste from the site.
In agreeing to buy the homes, the EPA is not declaring they posed health risks, Basile said, adding the agency still is assessing potential health effects.