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More radioactive slag found in Niagara Falls State Park

More low-level radioactive slag has been found in Niagara Falls State Park.

State Parks on Wednesday issued an announcement about the new discovery – in contrast to how it handled the disclosure of earlier findings of similar material.

The announcement comes about three weeks after crews removed a large amount of low-level radioactive slag from the park, a cleanup project that cost $725,000.

Wednesday's notice said work on a new welcome plaza at the Prospect Street entrance to the park revealed "a limited area of additional slag to be cleaned up on park property. The materials have already been contained and pose no threat to public health and safety as they are in the same fenced-off project area, inaccessible to the public, as last month’s discovery."

The newly discovered material, whose presence was confirmed Tuesday, totals about 200 tons, parks spokesman Dan Keefe confirmed. The cost of its removal is not yet known.

Mixed with dirt, the matter is piled on site and covered with a clear plastic sheet awaiting removal. Keefe said about 20 percent of the material in the pile is slag and the remainder is soil.

Last month, The Buffalo News disclosed that a large amount of low-level radioactive material had been found at the welcome plaza site in May. The state made no disclosure at the time and posted only a couple of small signs, barely visible from outside the chain-link fence surrounding the work site.

It also was covered with plastic sheeting until it could be hauled away.

"Approximately 1,500 tons of materials were safely removed from the site and transported to an approved and licensed waste facility in Ohio," the state announcement said. "With the latest discovery, State Parks is working with the Department of Environmental Conservation to identify and remove the materials in accordance with regulations. The cleanup activities will not impact visitation to the park or result in delays to the Welcome Plaza project."

The discoveries were made by workers by Scott Lawn Yard, the Sanborn company that has a $4.6 million contract for the plaza construction.

The source of the radioactivity is not certain, but federal investigations as far back as the mid-1980s have shown that radioactive slag generated as an industrial byproduct by some of Niagara Falls' now-defunct heavy industries was used for decades as a source of cheap, or even free, fill material for everything from parking lots to streets.

Piles of radioactive dirt greet visitors to Niagara Falls State Park

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