The Lake Ontario Ordnance Works Restoration Advisory Board invites area residents to attend the first of its planned series of community presentations on the LOOW Site Wednesday night. To be held at the Lewiston-Porter High School auditorium from 7 to 9:30 p.m., the program, "LOOW Site Radioactive Storage: The Experts Speak," will feature two presentations and a question and answer period on the radiological issues existing in certain areas of the LOOW Site.
The presentation is being sponsored by the LOOW-RAB, a local group, which, at this writing, remains at odds with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, government overseers of the LOOW Site, over its quest as an officially recognized body by the Corps.
Program organizers, professors Joseph A. Gardella Jr. of the University of Buffalo and William Boeck of Niagara University, report the Wednesday forum will have its focus specifically on the Niagara Falls Storage Site, a highly restricted, government facility on Pletcher Road.
Gardella notes the 18-acre NFSS Interim Waste Containment Site, an in-ground facility built in the mid-1980s and managed by the federal government, houses assorted high-level World War II and 1950-60s-era radioactive wastes consolidated from the once massive LOOW Site into one location. Intended as a temporary storage site, IWCS is now approaching the end of its expected lifespan and is slated for review by the agency to determine its future viability. While viewed by the Corps as stable, concerns remain with RAB as to the IWCS construction, its impact on the area's groundwater and local environment, the IWCS current and future integrity, and also its contents.
"The LOOW Site houses the NFSS, which contains 2,000 curies of high activity radiological residues within a subsurface containment cell located 1-mile east of Lewiston-Porter Central School District property. The residues were shipped to Lewiston and Porter from atomic weapons production facilities in the 1940s and '50s," says Gardella. "Twenty-five years ago, federal agencies constructed the NFSS as a temporary storage site in Lewiston. Today the agencies are evaluating whether or not to remove the high activity residues from the temporary Lewiston site. These same kinds of radioactive residues were stored in a Fernald, Ohio, facility until recently when they were moved to more secure storage in Texas."
Boeck, who serves as chair of the LOOW-RAB radiological committee, is expected to discuss the history of the NFSS and current concerns surrounding the stability and future of the site.
Also to be in attendance will be Jim Bierer, former chair of the Department of Energy Citizen's Advisory Board (CAB) in Fernald, Ohio. Bierer will speak on the experience of community members in the removal and remediation of high-level radioactive materials stored at Fernald under the Department of Energy's Citizen Advisory process.
"Lessons learned from the Fernald experience are very important as the U.S. Army Corps considers future options for the NFSS," says Gardella. He adds the information to be covered is of significant interest to area residents and urges their attendance at the Wednesday program.
Sponsored by LOOW-RAB, this series of technical and community-based presentations by North American scientists to the local public is supported by the University at Buffalo Larkin Chair of Chemistry, Niagara University, and the Lewiston-Porter Central School District.