Tonawanda asks action on landfill

By Mark Ciemcioch


October 21, 2009

With the Army Corps of Engineers beginning to commission another study on a contaminated Town of Tonawanda landfill, City of Tonawanda officials are growing impatient with a lack of action that affects a nearby city neighborhood.

The town landfill is located near the Youngmann Highway only 50 feet from homes within the city. A public campaign has been under way to remove radioactive waste from the landfill before it is capped. The Army Corps of Engineers has studied the contamination in the landfill previously and announced this week it will conduct another study.

Some, however, have argued that the corps is dragging its feet. At Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, several city officials spoke about the need to come to a conclusion on the matter, especially if that includes removing the waste.

“It has to be addressed because its 50 feet from people’s homes,” said Council President Carleton Zeisz, who accused the corps of avoiding responsibility on the matter. “I’m glad they’re doing more testing, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the issue, and that’s that they don’t want to dig [the waste] out.”

Tonawanda Mayor Ronald Pilozzi said the corps’ study will include walkovers, drilling soil bores and digging wells to measure contamination, all tests that have been done as part of previous studies.

“They’ve done all that already, and nothing’s been changed,” the mayor said. “I have to agree it’s time to do the right thing and get rid of it.”

Councilman Rick Davis, who represents residents living near the landfill, said continued studies delay final action.

“The landfill can’t be capped, so the quality-of-life issues are going to continue,” Davis said.

City officials also continued to press J. D. Crane, owner of the Tonawanda Coke factory that has been accused of emitting noxious pollution throughout the area. Pilozzi mentioned a public march against the facility was held earlier this month.

“You have to applaud the citizens for getting involved in this,” the mayor said of both environmental issues.