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Lead testing under way at former landfill

State environmental officials in the coming weeks will complete initial testing at the former Depew Village Landfill site across Cayuga Creek from Zubrick Road for elevated concentrations of lead in the soil.

Earlier testing by both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the village had confirmed higher than normal lead levels on a portion of the site.

According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, there is a potential environmental threat of lead contamination to the Cayuga Creek watershed, which prompted the agency to refer the site for a remedial investigation/feasibility study under the state's Superfund Program.

The site is located on a peninsula along the banks of Cayuga Creek and includes land that was formerly the Depew landfill, which operated from 1940 to 1961 and accepted ash from a municipal waste incinerator that operated next to the landfill.

"We have no reason to believe there's contamination beyond that peninsula, either on the other side of that creek or far off-site," said Meaghan Boice-Green, a DEC spokeswoman.

"The point of the testing is to confirm where the problems are," Boice-Green added.

Erie County purchased much of the landfill property in 1983, removed 60,000 cubic yards of municipal waste and built the wastewater overflow retention facility on the property.

The landfill was removed from the state's registry of inactive hazardous waste disposal sites when no documentation of significant hazardous waste disposal could be found.

However, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 sampled soils from the site as part of a stream bank stabilization project, it found above normal concentrations of lead.

A subsequent investigation by the village of a southern portion of the site confirmed the presence of higher than normal concentrations of lead, indicating that the contamination may have spread to the northern parts of the site.

In addition to testing soil, ground-water, surface water and fill material, the ongoing investigation will include developing a site sampling plan and surveying sampling points.

When the site investigation is completed and the extent of the contamination is understood, a list of cleanup alternatives will be developed. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the cleanup plan.

Boice-Green said that once the initial testing is completed in the next couple of weeks, another round of groundwater, surface and other testing will be performed in the spring. A final report is due by early summer.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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