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STATE KNEW OF TAINTED WELL RECORDS REVEAL CONTAMINATION FIRST IDENTIFIED IN 1980MAN RESEARCHING DEC FILES SAYS

Two weeks ago, Craig Fiels discovered from state Department of Environmental Conservation records that the well at his mother's home on Youngs Road near the Pfohl Brothers dump and the Amherst-Cheektowaga line was severely contaminated.

The Fiels family has not used the well water since 1980 when it began "to taste awful," Fiels said.

In 1986, a state Health Department test showed the well was contaminated with traces of pesticide, he said.

"But two weeks ago, I found out the state knew in 1980 it was contaminated with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenols), phenols, cyanide, lead, mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals," Fiels said.

Fiels has been gathering information about the dump for Western New York Regional Environmentalists and Concerned Homeowners (WNY REACH), which is a sponsor of an informational forum on the dump from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday in the Gleasner Administration Building auditorium at Erie Community College North Campus, Main Street and Youngs Road, Amherst.

Since October, Fiels has filed several requests under the state's Freedom of Information Law for DEC records involving the dump.

He says his requests have been largely ignored, including information sought by technical experts who are working with WNY REACH to determine the extent of hazardous pollution coming from the dump.

A DEC spokesman, E.W. Groneman, said the department is "making every effort to give him access to the public records he requested."

Fiels, he said, displayed impatience by filing one appeal to obtain records he had been notified already were available for him to see.

The information disclosing how extensive the Fiels family well was contaminated in 1980 was not obtained as a result of his information requests, Fiels said.

He said he found the information when David J. Seeger, an environmental lawyer, requested documents in the DEC's Buffalo office, and Fiels and Seeger examined the records together.

Fiels, 31, grew up in the Youngs Road home and now lives in Bethesda, Md. Since he received his master's degree in regional planning last year, he has devoted much of his time to researching pollution at the dump.

A 6-foot fence surrounding portions of the dump is scheduled to be erected beginning this month at a cost of $236,800. The dump, covering 130 to 150 acres, lies in northeast Cheektowaga, south of the Thruway, west of Transit Road, and on both sides of Pfohl Road.

State officials have said dioxin levels of 100 to 390 parts per billion have been found at the dump site. Federal guidelines require limiting human exposure when levels exceed one part per billion.

Edward White, DEC project manager for the site, said analysis of tests of radiation hot spots, test wells and other samples is still being conducted.

Michael Revara, a Health Department environmentalist, said the evaluation of tests of Aero Lake water and sediment samples was not expected until February or March.

Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, a consultant on radioactive waste management, will be a speaker at the forum Saturday.

Other speakers will include Dr. Rosalie Bertell of Toronto, a radiation epidemiologist and member of the Gray Nuns, and Luella Kenny of Grand Island, chairwoman of the Love Canal Medical Trust and a board member of the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste based in Arlington, Va.

The forum is being sponsored by WNY REACH, the ECC North college paper, the Williamsville PTA Council, the Buffalo Greens and Citizen Action of New York.

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