The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday a decision has been affirmed to dig up and remove nuclear waste at the Niagara Falls Storage Site in Lewiston, formerly the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works.
The waste – left over from the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II and postwar industrial projects – has been kept since 1986 in what’s called the Interim Waste Containment Structure on the north side of Pletcher Road, about a mile east of Lewiston-Porter Central School.
In a news release, the Corps of Engineers Buffalo District reported that a record of decision, authorizing what to do with the waste, had been signed by R.D. James, assistant Army secretary for civil works.
The plan calls for excavation, partial treatment and disposal off-site of everything in the structure.
The 10-acre structure, created by using the basements of torn-down buildings, was filled with uranium ore processing residues, sealed and covered with 20 feet of clay and soil. It was intended to be watertight and inhibit the emission of radon gas.
The Buffalo News reported in 2011 the structure “contains about half the world’s known supply of the radioactive metal radium, along with other radiological materials including uranium, thorium and cesium.”
“The selected remedy provides the best overall protection of human health and the environment,” said Buffalo District Commander Lt. Col. Jason Toth. “It is responsive to the feedback and input received from the community and stakeholders over the years.”
Signing the decision doesn’t necessarily guarantee funding to carry it out, Andrew Kornacki, a spokesman in the Corps’ Buffalo office, said Monday.
Cost of the cleanup was estimated at $490 million in 2015.