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EPA to start cleanup of tainted site

A 6.5-acre parcel of land in Newstead became contaminated decades ago when someone disposed of paint and other hazardous waste by dumping and burning them on the site.

Starting Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will oversee a six-month project to excavate the tons of contaminated soil from the Newstead Superfund site and relocate the bad soil to an off-site location, an EPA official said. New, clean soil will then be brought in to fill the site.

The property is located on Fletcher Road in a farming area. There are no residences near the site, but Tonawanda Creek is in the vicinity, so the site has been a concern, said Supervisor David L. Cummings.

The EPA held a public hearing last year to get input from area residents about the site, which has been fenced in. Cummings said he's pleased the site is finally being addressed.

Elizabeth Totman, a spokeswoman for the EPA, said the contamination occurred in the 1940s and 1950s when a Newstead resident dumped or burned Pratt & Lambert drums and cans of paint and solvents and paper on the site. The area's soils, sediment and ground water now have high levels of volatile organic chemicals, such as benzene, metals, lead and chromium, she said.

The EPA didn't become aware of the contamination until the 1990s when a family living on the property became concern.

Pratt & Lambert, a paint manufacturer located in Buffalo, was determined to be the "potentially responsible party," Totman said. The EPA suspects it was a Pratt & Lambert employee who dumped the waste. Sherwin-Williams bought the company in 1996 and is now responsible for the cleanup.

When it was determined that the soil was contaminated, the EPA order Sherwin-Williams to relocate the family. Sherwin-Williams has contracted ERM Remediation and Construction Management to do the work.

Totman said it hasn't been decided what will become of the land, which Sherwin-Williams owns, once the excavation is done. But the EPA will begin monitoring the site's ground water.


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