Family wants answers for ‘gushing’ sanitary sewer


ELMA, N.Y. (WIVB) – The first time Laura Piccillo saw water spewing from a sanitary sewer into her yard, she thought it might be an artesian well bubbling up out of the ground, then reality set in: the water was rain draining from an old Nike missile base a few hundred yards from her home.

As Piccillo researched the former Nike base, she also learned tons of contaminants have been dug up and removed from the site—a big worry for the Elma mother of two and her family, leading them to ask, “What is in the water and what is in my ground now that this water has been flooding for years and years?”

Laura said, the constant flooding is also gushing up through the Piccillo’s driveway and ponding in their yard, “It has caused massive damage to my property, upwards of $50,000 to both of my driveways. Why should I have to pay to fix my driveways that I did not cause damage to? Honestly I can’t fix them because there is no point because I am still being flooded to this day.”

When the U.S. Army shut down the Nike base, it eventually turned the property, which sits on the Orchard Park side of Old Transit Road, over to a Public Benefit Corporation called Health Research, Inc., headquartered near Albany which is affiliated with a number of other health related agencies, including Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The Piccillo’s home is on the Elma side of Old Transit Rd. which is maintained by the state, and Laura suspects storm water flowing through a culvert along Transit Rd. is getting into the pipe coming from the former missile base—accounting for the massive volume of storm water.

“I suspect that the water is being caught in up at Old Transit, where the culvert crosses, and this pipe crosses the roadway there.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for correcting any problems the former Nike bases might have created when they were active, the Corps held a community forum for neighbors, like Laura, to voice their concerns back in August.

Officials from the Corps of Engineers assured the homeowners from Elma, Orchard Park, and neighbors of another decommissioned Nike base in East Aurora, they would get answers about the quality of the water, remediation of any contaminants at a later meeting.

Laura just wants the government, or the state, or Health Research to fix the pipe and the gusher, “because the pipe was not put in to drain Transit Road–that was not the intent when the pipe was put in. The intent was to service the Nike base.”

A spokesperson for the New York District of the Corps of Engineers said they are digging deep into government archives to research the former missile sites. They would like to form a restoration advisory board, among the neighbors and people with a vested interest in the old bases.

Corps officials are trying to offer a more complete set of answers in time to convene another meeting by late November.

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