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Who will pay for lead cleanup?

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is hoping companies responsible for contaminating Depew yards with lead will agree this summer to remove the soil.

That would allow preliminary cleanup activities to begin this fall, said EPA spokesman Mike Basile.

"Fifty-nine of 71 properties we tested had concentrations we weren't happy with," Basile said.

The 59 properties are on the east side of Transit Road, near Walden Avenue. That's almost two-thirds more than the 36 properties on the west side of Transit that were cleaned up in 2005 and 2006 by NL Industries at a cost of about $2 million.

The EPA determined that lead dust from the foundry once owned by NL Industries blew across Walden Avenue and was deposited in the 36 yards along Walden, West Second Street and others just north of the plant.

Soil samples were taken from 71 properties on the east side of Walden, and 59 were found to have elevated concentrations of lead, according to a report released last October.

EPA officials asked NL Industries to clean up the contamination, and the company identified other potentially responsible parties, according to the EPA.

Basile said the EPA is negotiating with the "potential responsible parties" to excavate and remove the contaminated soil from the yards east of Transit. He declined to identify the companies other than NL Industries.

"NL is definitely one of them, and we're looking at others as well," he said.

Representatives from EPA went door-to-door in the Depew neighborhood Tuesday, handing out fact sheets to residents.

When soil testing was performed two years ago, it was estimated that the cleanup could start this summer. But there is no agreement yet with companies to pay for the cleanup. With such a short construction season remaining, the only type of work that could be done this year would be non-intrusive activities, such as arranging for access to yards, performing site surveys and meeting with residents, according to the EPA.

Basile said the EPA is optimistic an agreement can be signed this summer with the responsible party or parties.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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