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DEC to study if Wheatfield landfill contaminants are 'moving off-site'

The results of private soil sampling around their homes late last year confirmed some of the decades-long fears of residents in a North Tonawanda neighborhood.

A toxic stew from nearby landfill, which once housed waste from Love Canal, was detected in their yards, they said.

Now, a separate investigation by the state Department of Environmental Conservation will include sampling.

The DEC announced this week that it is undertaking a  “detailed environmental study” around the inactive Niagara Sanitation Co. landfill on Nash Road.

“While preliminary information and data indicates that contaminated soil, sediment and groundwater appears to be confined to the landfill property and not impacting surrounding homes, DEC is moving quickly to fully investigate the nature and extent of the contamination and develop a clean-up plan for the former landfill," said Sean C. Mahar, a spokesman for the DEC.

A nearly 19 acre landfill off Nash Road in the town of Wheatfield will undergo further study by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. (DEC image)

Surface and near-surface soils along with surface water and sediment will be collected and analyzed during the first phase of the DEC's investigation, an agency statement said.

The sampling will begin this spring.

Then, it will clear vegetation around the perimeter of the landfill to allow for additional field work that will include completing test pits and soil borings.

The DEC added that it will install monitoring wells to test the extent of any groundwater contamination

The investigation will first focus around the boundaries of the landfill and could be expanded if any results suggest contamination may have migrated off-site.

"The purpose of the investigation is to define the nature and extent of contamination in soil, surface water, groundwater and any other parts of the environment that may be affected," the DEC said.

The investigation is designed "to fully characterize all contamination at the site," it reported.

After the investigation is finished, details will be released and additional studies and plans for further remediation alternatives, as needed, will be presented.


As of Wednesday, Wheatfield town officials confirmed they've received 72 notices of claim from individuals alleging they've been damaged by the town's failure to protect them from the hazards of the nearby landfill.

A Forbes Street resident in North Tonawanda posts warnings on his property. (T.J. Pignataro/Buffalo News)

The legal documents assert the abandoned landfill was "left for decades without proper cleanup, oversight or management, with no signage as to the danger, no fencing of the property to prevent access, and without engineering controls to prevent seepage and transport of contamination onto the surrounding properties."

Some of the contaminants of concern listed by the DEC include: chlorobenzene, chromium, lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and several others.

Current and former neighbors of the landfill allege they’ve contracted respiratory problems, headaches, cancer and nervous system disorders as the result of living near the landfill.

About a dozen or so neighbors adjacent to the landfill property, including those on Forbes Street, Forbes Terrace and along Nash Road, have posted colorful warning signs advising the public not to enter the area stating that it is a "toxic dump site."



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