LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) - Senator Chuck Schumer is urging the Environmental Protection Agency to relocate six residences along Eighteenmile Creek in Lockport that are impacted by toxic-laden flood waters from the creek. The senator says buying out the homes is the cost-effective solution and puts the health and safety of residents first.
Schumer says the EPA is reviewing two options, either relocating the homeowners or a temporary soil cap on the contamination. According to Schumer, the cost to purchase all the homes is $250,000 and the temporary soil cap is $1.2 million and could be washed away by future flooding.
Eighteenmile creek runs approximately 15 miles from Lockport to Lake Ontario. In March 2012 it was named an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site and is now a national priority for hazardous waste clean-up.
A copy of Senator Schumer's letter to the EPA appears below:
Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe:
I write today to urge you to incorporate the relocation of residents along Eighteenmile Creek as part of your remedial action plan for this Superfund site, set to be released in the coming weeks. As I am sure you are aware Eighteenmile Creek poses significant health concerns to local residents with prevalent PCBs as well as other pollutants like lead, mercury, insecticides/pesticides, and copper. Dating back to the 1980's Eighteenmile Creek has been the subject of investigations by the EPA and DEC – and it was designated as an Area of Concern (AOC) by the EPA because of the prevalence of these pollutants. The creek has recently and routinely flooded, and when it does the pollutants in the water not only contaminate the back yards of home owners, but have recently come within feet of homes themselves – running the risk of polluted waters rushing into the homes of Western New Yorkers.
Now the EPA is in the process of determining what remedial actions should be taken for residents living along the creek – and as part of that process the EPA conducted a public meeting where two different options were discussed. The first option, which is limited to a temporary cap on contaminated soil along the creek bank runs the risk of not fully mitigating the danger to public health and also has the potential to be significantly more expensive over the long run. The other option, which I am advocating you pursue, is to buy-out the residents living along the creek. By purchasing the homes along the creek at a fair price, and allowing the residents to relocate, the EPA can ensure the public's health and safety are protected while permanent clean-up options are evaluated.
I understand the need to evaluate the cost of both of these actions – but in this case the prudent and safer course is also the less expensive course of action. It is estimated that in order to buy out the homeowners the total cost would be roughly $250,000, while the plan to cap the soil is estimated to cost $1.2M and could likely become moot should the creek flood again. As you finalize your remedial action plan I urge you to buy-out these homeowners, protecting their health and safety, and then work on a long-term clean-up plan for the creek.
Thank you for your consideration, should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
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