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GROUPS DEMAND MORE HEALTH TESTS NEAR PFOHL DUMP COALITION LEADER SAYS STATE OFFICIALS PROMISED TO SCREEN RESIDENTS FOR POISONING

Eleven local and statewide environmental groups demanded Saturday that state officials follow through on their promises to do more testing of residents and property around the Pfohl Bros. landfill in Cheektowaga where chemicals and heavy metals have been found.

"In August, the Health Department promised us blood tests and health screening by September or October," said Thomas Cline of 75 Pfohl Road, who heads the Pfohl Area Homeowners and Resident Coalition Inc.

"Here it is almost Christmas, and nothing has been done. We want them to deliver what they said they would."

He also called on the Department of Environmental Conservation to do more.

"We want more extensive on- and off-site testing that was promised in August," he said. "They haven't done a thing."

A state report released last month said 13 soil samples taken from homes next to the landfill, near Transit Road and Aero Drive, and pathways around Aero Lake found levels of contaminants that do not represent a threat to human health.

The Health Department and the DEC collected the samples to evaluate possible exposure of nearby residents to contaminants and to help guide containment plans for the landfill.

As a result of that report, state officials last month told residents they do not plan to do any further off-site testing, unless it is warranted.

Cline said his group and 10 others will present their demands for more testing to state officials at a meeting Jan. 17. He added that he hopes the DEC and Health Department will offer a timetable for further tests at the meeting.

Among the groups invited to plan strategy for that meeting are Great Lakes United, the Sierra Club, Love Canal Homeowners Association, Ecumenical Task Force of the Niagara Frontier, the United Auto Workers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Citizen Environmental Coalition, Western New York REACH (Regional Environmentalists and Concerned Homeowners), the Pfohl Landfill Cleanup Committee and the Cheektowaga Taxpayers Coalition.

Cline said previous state studies suggested that more extensive on- and off-site testing should be carried out.

"They haven't done any testing, just a survey," he said.

"We want blood tests for dioxins and PCBs, benzenes, lead, mercury and other heavy metals -- that's what they found in our yards and along the dump boundary."

Cline said the testing should include 11 families on his street, town workers and Thruway employees who work at the nearby Exit 49 toll booth.

He also wants the DEC to give appropriate funding to Dr. Ward Stone of the DEC's toxics lab to do studies on wildlife in the area. "Dr. Stone said he thinks the wildlife will be like the old miner's canary telling us what's in the air or in the ground," Cline said.

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