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Niagara Falls Struggles With Yet Another Radioactive Site | Environment

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Niagara Falls Struggles With Yet Another Radioactive Site
Niagara Falls Struggles With Yet Another Radioactive Site

News of more radioactive hot-spots within the city of Niagara Falls, New York, is announced for a North End project -- haunted by remnants of Niagara's legacy military and industrial past.

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Officials from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced during a public meeting Thursday at the Doris Jones Family Resource Center in Niagara Falls, that areas of the Tract II parcel along Highland and Beech Avenues in the city's North End contain radioactive radium, thorium and uranium above levels that will spur cleanup attempts on the parcel slated for commercial redevelopment and for a playground, a picnic area and a community park. The industrial area of Highland and Beech Ave. were once occupied by a former Union Carbide and Carbon Chemicals Co. battery factory and the Niagara Sales Book -- Moore Business Forms. It's also in close proximity to residential housing. The source and origin of the radioactively contaminated materials have not yet been positively identified by analysis of official agencies or third-party laboratories.

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A spokesman for the Buffalo office of the NYSDEC, Greg Sutton, stated at the meeting that it was better to address the situation immediately rather than letting it languish and that plans are being worked out for further testing and removal of the offending radioactive materials that were recently detected during a walkover survey conducted by the Honeywell Corporation working in conjunction with the NYSDEC and developer Jon William's company, Brightfields, LLC, of 333 Ganson Street, Buffalo. Williams is a member of the family of waste magnate James Harrison "Harry" Williams. The younger Williams was recently in the news with another company, Ontario Specialty Contracting also of the above address, and the untimely demolition of the Wheeler and GLF feed mill complex and grain elevator that collapsed and fell into the Buffalo River on December 2, 2011.

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The long-troubled Tract II property was found more than a year ago to be contaminated with high enough levels of lead-to-soil contamination that it triggered the initiation of a cleanup plan for that substance by officials due to human health concerns. Honeywell is listed as a "Potentially Responsible Party" by the DEC. Lead is often found in conjunction and comingled with radioactive materials as lead is the end-state element of the radioactive decay process. Its finding is often used as an indicator of more serious environmental problems. Lead in high enough concentrations is known to cause developmental disorders in children and is listed by the U.S. EPA as a probable human carcinogen. Radioactive materials have been linked to cancer and other diseases and are considered hazardous at any level.
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Earlier this month, the City of Niagara Falls entered into a complex proposed purchase agreement with Brightfields, LLC. for the 20-plus acre, two-parcel site for $1.00 -- one-dollar.

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Officials from both the state environmental regulatory agency and the private firms involved with this commercial development claim that the offending radioactive materials are a "slag-like" substance similar to what has been found in numerous locations around the beleaguered city; including the Lewiston Road decon-reconstruction project -- stalled now for nearly three years and causing millions of dollars in unforeseen and unbudgeted cost overrun, along with rounds of legal wrangling by the city and the Man O' Trees company, the West Seneca firm that was recently awarded a contract with the NFTA for Buffalo's Outer Harbor.

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More news will be forthcoming later today on this Tract II radioactive site-find and yet more wide-spread radioactive waste that's been discovered at yet another current construction project in the Falls.

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