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DEC to continue cleanup of arsenic on Roy-Hart campus, Middleport

MIDDLEPORT – The state Department of Environmental Conservation has announced its summer work schedule for the second phase of the current round of arsenic remediation on the Royalton-Hartland Central School campus and in the Village of Middleport.

FMC Corp., which is supposed to be paying for the work, is refusing to take part because its lawsuit against the DEC remains unresolved in State Supreme Court in Albany.

FMC sued the DEC after the state agency refused to adopt FMC’s cleanup plan for the village, which the company said would be far less expensive and just as effective.

The state is pursuing a plan to reduce every point in every lot it excavates below 20 parts per million of arsenic, which is the naturally occurring background level for that element in the village.

FMC says it would be cheaper, less disruptive and just as safe to reduce the arsenic level on every lot excavated to an average of 20 parts per million.

The state is paying for this summer’s work itself.

Much of the Roy-Hart school campus was excavated and filled from fresh soil more than a decade ago. The current work plan, approved by the Board of Education, calls for digging up about 870 cubic yards of soil in the high school’s inner courtyard and near the southwest corner of the building, according to a DEC announcement this week.

School Superintendent Roger L. Klatt said this summer’s work is “not as extensive as Phase 1,” which occurred last year.

“There could be as many as four phases, so perhaps next summer it will be more extensive,” Klatt said.

The work plan calls for work from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday from June 27 to Aug. 26, although Klatt said Saturday work may not be necessary unless there is bad weather or other delays. The work areas will be fenced off.

Baseline air sampling in the school will be carried out before work begins and compared to results at the end of the season, to make sure arsenic dug up by the excavation doesn’t get into the school, the DEC said.

In the village, up to 28 properties are to have their soil excavated and replaced this summer, the DEC said. The work, to be carried out by National Vacuum Environmental Services Corp. of Niagara Falls, is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and is about to begin.

Residents were allowed to opt out of having their properties cleaned up. Many village residents have decried the cleanup as unnecessary.

At numerous public meetings in recent years, speakers have said they’ve seen no health impact from arsenic in the soil.

FMC’s agricultural chemical plant is the source of the arsenic. The current cleanups are meant to remove arsenic from the “wind deposition area,” where tests show the herbicide ingredient was blown by the wind and deposited on the ground.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com