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DEC announces Falls cleanup plans

NIAGARA FALLS – The state Department of Environmental Conservation has announced a draft work plan for an investigation leading to the cleanup of the site of the former Fallside Hotel on Buffalo Avenue, while declaring a Town of Niagara industrial site no longer poses a health danger.

The DEC is soliciting public comments through Jan. 14 on the plan for 401, 402 and 430 Buffalo Ave., which will include demolition of the former hotel at 401 Buffalo Ave.

All three lots were once owned by Union Carbide Corp., which had a manufacturing operation on the site dating back as far as 1914.

There were underground fuel oil storage tanks on the site, along with giant ovens that dried raw materials.

The vacant lots at 402 and 430 Buffalo Ave. are across the street from the former hotel, built in the early 1980s.

It was slated for demolition by Merani Hospitality, which is pursuing a plan to build a new eight-story, 184-room hotel on the property near the Robert Moses Parkway.

Now, Merani will pay for the cleanup, under the supervision of the DEC and the state Department of Health, under terms of the state brownfield cleanup program.

The investigation will check out the extent of contamination in the soil and ground water.

Other environmental issues that are part of the plan include the removal of electrical transformers from the basement of the former hotel, and the removal of naturally occurring radioactive material near its swimming pool, the DEC said.

Documents about the plan are on the DEC website or at the Niagara Falls Public Library. Comments should be sent to project manager Michael Hinton at the DEC, 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo, NY 14203, or by email at michael.hinton@dec.ny.gov.

Meanwhile, the DEC has declared the Airco Properties site at 4201 Witmer Road, Town of Niagara, to be clean enough that it no longer presents a significant danger to public health or the environment.

The reclassification of the 23.9-acre landfill to Class 4, as the DEC calls sites that no longer pose a hazard, resulted from installation of a new cap and removal of some of the heavy metals there, primarily chromium.

Linde North America is the current owner of the property, which was used as a disposal site by the former Vanadium Corp., which owned the land from 1920 to 1964. Two adjoining Superfund sites also were designated on the 150 acres that Vanadium once owned.

The Airco site contained an estimated 594,000 tons of industrial waste, including ferrochromium silocon slag and dust, lime slag, wood, brick and ash.

The New York Power Authority bought part of the land for the Niagara Power Project in 1959, and Niagara Mohawk, now National Grid, also purchased some. Both of the sold parcels included waste piles deposited by Vanadium.

Airco bought 62 acres in 1964, and its affiliate, Airco Carbon, managed the site. The company’s name later was changed to Carbon/Graphite Group. It disposed of about 5,000 tons a year of ferrochromium silicon dust on the site from 1971 to about 1984.

The landfill was built in 1980 by SKW Metals and Alloys, which bought the western-most 37 acres of the property from Airco the preceding year.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com