Middleport trailer park residents to lose homes to arsenic remediation - The Buffalo News

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Middleport trailer park residents to lose homes to arsenic remediation

MIDDLEPORT – Faced with a state demand for remediation of arsenic in the soil, the owners of a Middleport mobile home park have decided to close the park and sell the property to FMC Corp.

The residents of the 21 occupied trailers in the Old Mill Mobile Home Park on Sherman Road will have to move out when their leases are up.

The park, built on the site of what was a mill pond until about 100 years ago, lies north of the Erie Canal near a creek tributary that flows from south to north through areas of Middleport where significant levels of arsenic have been found in the soil.

Marc S. Brown, attorney for Ogden Holding, the Spencerport-based owner of the 8-acre park, said some tenants have month-to-month leases and are allowed by law to remain for no longer than six months. Others, who have one-year leases, could stay until Dec. 31.

Shawn J. Tollin, FMC environmental remediation manager, said the company is offering relocation assistance, including reimbursement of moving expenses, as well as paying “fair market value” for the homes.

“They’re signing up for individual one-on-one meetings with our community folks,” Tollin said. The appointments are available Monday through Thursday at the FMC community liaison office, 8 S. Vernon St.

Tollin wouldn’t discuss the size of the payments. “It will depend on how each individual’s circumstances fit into the plan as it’s designed,” he said.

Brown said the residents had been warned last fall about the remediation plans sought by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and learned of their ouster at a meeting Tuesday night in the Middleport Fire Company hall.

Brown said any plan to excavate soil in the trailer park to remove arsenic would require the residents to leave at least temporarily because the work would undermine the concrete slabs supporting the trailers.

“That relocation could take years,” Brown said. “It was in the best interest of my clients and the residents long-term for the park to close.” He said fewer than half of the available homes are occupied.

“There’s a question if you could even put the mobile home park back at the end of the day, given that it’s located in a flood plain from the tributary,” Tollin said.

He said the exact cleanup plan still needs to be determined, since the mobile home park is not part of the area where the DEC believes prevailing winds deposited arsenic from FMC’s agricultural chemical production.

The DEC did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

FMC spokesman Robert Carr said there has been farm chemical production in Middleport since 1904, under the aegis of the former Niagara Sprayer Co., which FMC bought in 1943.

FMC has sued the DEC over the remedial plan for the area, as the company asserts its preferred plan would be less expensive and just as effective as the state’s choice.

FMC is required to pay for the cleanup of the arsenic, which has been going on in Middleport on and off for nearly 20 years. The question is how to reach the “background level” of 20 parts per million of arsenic that naturally occurs in soils in the area.

FMC prefers excavating enough soil on any given property to bring the sitewide average below 20 parts per million. The DEC’s plan is to remove all soil that has more than 20 parts per million, regardless of depth.

Village residents have said repeatedly in public meetings that they have seen no negative health impact from the arsenic and would prefer that work cease because it’s damaged properties by destroying trees and shrubs, and harmed property values. The DEC is allowing residents to opt out of the newest plan, affecting some 200 properties.

The Royalton-Hartland Board of Education is supposed to vote at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on whether to allow the DEC to excavate its entire Middleport school campus. except for areas such as the athletic fields that were cleaned up in previous operations.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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