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EPA Proposes to Remove Three Niagara County Sites from the Superfund List

Release Date: 03/17/2004
Contact Information:
(#04041) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has completed cleanup work at three Superfund sites in Niagara County, New York, including Love Canal, and is proposing to delete them from the National Priorities List (NPL) of hazardous waste sites. The Agency will continue to monitor the sites, which in addition to Love Canal are the Hooker-102nd Street Landfill site in Niagara Falls, and the Niagara County Refuse site in Wheatfield. The Agency has also completed the construction needed to clean up three additional NPL sites in the county.

"This is a landmark day for Niagara County," said Jane M. Kenny, EPA's Regional Administrator."We've cleaned up half the Superfund sites in the county, including the well-known Love Canal, and have completed construction needed for long-term cleanups on the other half."

New Homes at Love Canal, Niagara Falls, NY.The three sites were all placed on the NPL in September 1983. Three additional sites in Niagara County were subsequently added to the NPL, bringing the total to six. Sites deleted from the NPL continue to be monitored and remain eligible for cleanups in the unlikely event that a change in site conditions would warrant such an action.

The 70-acre Love Canal site encompasses a hazardous waste landfill at which chemical waste products were disposed of from 1942-1952. In 1953, the original 16-acre hazardous waste landfill was covered, and a school and more than 200 homes were built nearby. Residents reported odors and residues as early as the 1960s; studies in the 1970s showed that numerous toxic chemicals were migrating from the landfill and contaminating nearby waterways. In 1978 and 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared two separate environmental emergencies and, as a result, approximately 950 families were evacuated from a 10-block area surrounding the canal. The Emergency Declaration Area included neighborhoods adjacent to the site covering 350 acres. In 1980, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund, which addresses abandoned hazardous waste sites, was passed largely due to issuesrelated to the Love Canal.

"By taking the Love Canal site off the Superfund list, we will mark a turning point for the nation," continued Administrator Kenny. "This was the site that really started Superfund."

Today, the area known as Love Canal is once again a thriving community. Forty acres are covered by a synthetic liner and clay cap and surrounded by a barrier drainage system. Contamination from the site is also controlled by a leachate collection and treatment facility. Neighborhoods to the west and north of the canal are being revitalized, with more than 200 formerly boarded-up homes renovated and sold to new owners, and 10 newly-constructed apartment buildings. The area east of the canal has also been sold for light industrial or commercial redevelopment.

The Hooker-102nd Street Landfill site is bordered by the Niagara River, south of the LaSalle Expressway and the Love Canal site in the city of Niagara Falls. The former 22-acre landfill is owned by Occidental Chemical Corporation (formerly Hooker Chemical) and the Olin Chemical Corporation. From 1943 to 1971, the landfill accepted chemical waste products. Over time, contamination from the landfill leached into the soil and ground water. Occidental and Olin installed a synthetic cap covered by clay over the landfill to prevent contamination in storm water runoff. They also installed a system to collect and treat leachate and a slurry wall, which keeps liquids from running into the river. All cleanup and containment work was completed in 2000, and long-term operation and maintenance of the landfill is being conducted by the companies with oversight by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Niagara County Refuse site is a former 65-acre municipal landfill just north of the Niagara River, which accepted municipal and industrial waste from 1968-1976. The site was covered with soil and clay when it was closed in 1976, but over time, the cap wore away in spots and storm water runoff and leachate became contaminated. EPA began studying the site in 1987 and a group of fourteen responsible parties, including Niagara County municipalities, formed a working group to finish investigating the site and clean it up. The responsible parties installed a new landfill cap that vents landfill gases, and constructed a clay perimeter barrier wall and leachate collection and treatment system. Long-term operation and maintenance of the site is being conducted by the responsible parties, and is overseen by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The public comment period on EPA's proposal to delete these sites starts today and ends on April 16, 2004. Copies of site-related documents for Hooker-102nd and Love Canal are available for public review at the EPA Public Information Office at:

      Niagara Office Building, Room 530
      Niagara Falls, New York.
Documents for the Niagara County Refuse site can be found reviewed at:
      North Towanda Public Library
      505 Meadow Road, North Towanda.
Written comments for any of these sites can be sent to:
      Kevin Lynch, Chief, Western New York Remedial Section
      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
      290 Broadway, 20th floor
      New York, N.Y., 10007-1866
or to the EPA Public Information Office in Niagara Falls.

Nearly 300 Superfund sites nationally have been cleaned up and deleted from the NPL. The notice of the proposed deletion of these sites from the NPL was published in the Federal Register today. Members of the public interested in obtaining copies of the notice or a detailed site description should contact the RCRA/Superfund Hotline at 1-800-424-9346 or 703-412-9810.