The Buffalo News - Northern Suburbs - TOWN OF TONAWANDA

Plan to raze Praxair site detailed

By EMMA D. SAPONG

News Northtowns Bureau

3/23/2004

Army Corps of Engineers officials Monday night unveiled detailed plans for dismantling Building 14 on the Praxair site in the Town of Tonawanda to ensure the safety of residents, workers and the environment.

Corps officials gave a walk-through of the project, which will begin next month and span four months, to remove contaminated soils from inaccessible parts of Building 14.

About 60 residents attended the informational meeting in Holmes Elementary School on Dupont Avenue near the site.

Jeffrey M. Hall, the corps' district engineer and commander, said the project was coordinated with input from the school district, emergency service workers, Praxair and elected officials on various levels. He said safety is the first priority.

First, asbestos will be removed, and then the building's interior will be taken apart, followed by removal of the roof. The superstructure will then be dismantled, and the contaminated soils will be excavated. All the materials will be disposed of out of state. Shaw Environmental is handling the $11 million project.

There are several monitors in the area that will keep track of dust emissions during the project.

Ray Pilon, project manager, said the work will be "safe and slow" and there will be limited dust emissions. He said the corps has been monitoring the site since 1997 and "we have never had any readings to be concerned with."

Elected and government officials lauded the corps for working for years to address the problem and close the book on the legacy left by the Manhattan Project.

Town Supervisor Ronald H. Moline said town officials support the project and having the health of pupils and staff at Holmes protected through the plan.

Dennis Conroy, site manager for Praxair, said residents should be clear that Building 14 won't be demolished all at once, but it will remove "small amounts of material, evaluating it, encapsulating it and then removing it for the site." Some residents said they didn't feel the project would be a threat to public health.

"I'm not concerned about contaminations in the neighborhood," said Anne Bazinet, who lives near the site and has a child enrolled at Holmes. "My father was a chemical engineer and worked at Linde, and he wouldn't have built his home here if there was a risk."

Other residents saw things differently. Philip Sweet of Toxic in Tonawanda said studies have shown higher cancer rates associated with radiation exposure. He said daily urine and blood tests should be performed on project workers.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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