Clinton weighs in on landfill

By Dan Miner

The Tonawanda News


Sen. Hillary Clinton's office is throwing its muscle behind residents along Hackett Drive near the Town of Tonawanda landfill.

Clintons took a break from the campaign trail Tuesday to issue a statement and fax a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"The close proximity of residential homes, as well as Riverview Elementary School, makes the comprehensive remediation of the Tonawanda Landfill vicinity property absolutely essential to ensuring the highest possible quality of life for Tonawanda residents," Clinton said in a statement. "The Corps must verify that radioactive materials have not migrated through soils or hydrology outside the landfill vicinity property."

The statement and letter come before today's meeting by the grass-roots group Clean Up Riverview's Environment, held to discuss issues city residents have with the Army Corps' proposed plan. City residents and elected officials have until late June to comment on the plan until the Army Corps begins work on its official record of decision.

The Corps is holding a meeting for oral public comment on April 25.

The radioactive materials have been found to fall within health limits set by the U.S. Department of Environmental Conservation, and their removal has since been a subject of debate between the Army Corps, which is following its bylaws, and concerned city residents, who say the materials should be removed.

The letter urges improvements to the Corps' proposed plan, saying "the people of Tonawanda have suffered enough as a result of the remnants of the Manhattan Engineer District materials and other manufacturing wastes, which have left a legacy of FUSRAP sites in their community."

It goes on to ask for a re-assessment of where the materials come from. The Army Corps has said there is no evidence that the materials are a result of Manhattan Project wastes

The letter urges an expanded assessment of whether the radiation constitutes a health risk, and says the Corps should conduct sampling on neighboring properties and have not migrated through soils or hydrology and into nearby backyards and houses.

The Corps' policy is to respond to congressional letters within 10 days of the date of receipt, said Army Corps Public Affairs Officer Bruce Sanders. The letter was addressed to Lt. Colonel John S. Hurley, P.E., district commander of the Army Corps Buffalo District. Hurley will comply with the Army Corps policy.

The letter will also be submitted as a public comment and be part of the Corps' final record of decision.

At Tuesday's Common Council meeting, CURE co-chair Chris Thomas said no trespassing signs have appeared between the landfill and properties on Hackett Drive, and expressed his dissatisfaction that somebody came onto his property to do it.

Thomas disputed a proposed county road which could act as a buffer between homes and the landfill, which Mayor Ron Pilozzi has supported in the past. Pilozzi emphasized that he had no control over whether the road is built or not.

"The first statement I'll make is, we have got to get rid of that stuff," Pilozzi said.

On that, he and Thomas agreed.

Copyright 2007, Tonawanda News