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Suggestions offered for monitoring nuclear dump

Federal regulators should improve how they monitor a nuclear waste dump in northwest Niagara County.

Officials also should study possible contamination in a drainage ditch that runs near the radiological waste and that flows toward Lake Ontario.

Those are among the recommendations in a report prepared for the Niagara County Health Department about the former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works site in Lewiston and Porter.

The county's $200,000 effort, known as the "Community LOOW Project," includes a set of 10 recommendations to state and federal agencies responsible for the oversight of the cleanup of decades-old radiological and chemical contamination.

Project coordinator K. Scott King, of King Groundwater Science of Buffalo, said the report was meant to provide the community with an overall assessment of present site conditions and some guidance to agencies for possible improvements.

"I don't see any immediate concerns for exposures to members of the general public," King told The Buffalo News when asked about the study's findings, though he noted there are issues of "legacy" contamination that remain from past operations on the 7,500-acre site.

There are also "unknowns," or gaps in data, about the sediment of Four Mile Creek, which empties into Lake Ontario, he said.

King and county officials are inviting the public to an information session on the report, which will include a question-and-answer period.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Lewiston Senior Center, 4361 Lower River Road.

Representatives of the health department will be on hand, King said, but it was unclear whether officials from other regulatory agencies will be present.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been undertaking an investigation of contamination at the former ordnance works site since 1997, when it took over responsibility for the property from the Department of Defense.

Funding for the county's study came through various sources, including $100,000 in federal money, as well as $30,000 from the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo. County officials announced the launch of the project in January 2005.

Among the report's other recommendations:

*Congress needs to make additional funding available to the Army Corps "for continuing the necessary investigations and studies required to complete the remediation of the former LOOW properties in a timely manner."

*Agencies performing investigatory work should coordinate their work across the former site, expanding what they look for and measuring what's found in the same way.

*Records about the site should be centrally archived to improve their availability to the public.

The report also notes a "general lack of trust" that has existed between some members of the community and government regulators.

The former ordnance works site consists of various properties, including the Lewiston-Porter school district and CWM Chemical Services, a hazardous waste landfill.

A statement by CWM issued late Thursday said the company has notified the study's authors of errors believed to have been included, and has provided them with additional data.

To view the full report, go online to www.niagaracounty.com/health/loow.asp.

e-mail: abesecker@buffnews.com

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