Both sessions to discuss IWCS issues
by Terry Duffy
Area residents are invited to attend two separate meetings this week, both to discuss the radioactive Interim Waste Containment Structure at the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works and its future.
Earlier, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its third technical memoranda as part of the Corps' ongoing feasibility study at IWCS, a 10-acre cell located within the 191-acre, government-owned Niagara Falls Storage Site at LOOW on Pletcher Road. They include radon assessments at the site, an evaluation of meteorological data and modeling approaches to assess the dispersion of airborne releases, and a preliminary evaluation of health effects for hypothetical exposures to contaminants.
All will be discussed in detail by Corps Buffalo District reps at a workshop session on Wednesday, March 28, at 6 p.m. in the Lewiston Senior Center, 4361 Lower River Road.
Leading into that program, the LOOW Restoration Advisory Board announced Thursday it would meet on Tuesday, March 13, at 6 p.m. in the Board of Education Room of the Lewiston-Porter Community Resource Center on the Creek Road campus. Expected to be discussed will be evidence uncovered by RAB that the IWCS may be leaking.
At the LOOW RAB Steering Committee meeting on Tuesday, RAB reports its technical chair, chemist Ann Roberts, will review Army Corps environmental investigation and surveillance results that may suggest the 30-year old federal radioactive waste containment structure is leaking.
RAB Vice Chair Alfonso Marra Bax noted, "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of determining whether large amounts of high-activity radioactive waste will be removed, or partially removed, from the Town of Lewiston. There are several variations of these options being considered, including the creation of a permanent federal radioactive waste disposal facility. Although the Corps has not officially selected an option, it has begun to create a public record that may permit or preclude certain options. RAB members are encouraged to attend this meeting, which is also open to the public."
For more information on RAB, visit its website at http://loowrab.com/.
Meanwhile the LOOW Community Action Council announced it would meet on Wednesday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m., also in the Board of Education Room at Lew-Port in an effort to prepare the community further for the March 28 Corps' workshop.
According to Dr. Joseph Gardella, University at Buffalo Larkin professor of chemistry and LOOW CAC co-chair, that session will discuss the new Corps reports and offer attendees opportunity for input in the CAC planning process as it readies for the workshop. "The CAC has been working closely with the Army Corps to ensure that this workshop provides the right focus and level of detail of information. We will be able to preview the draft Army Corps presentations and materials and discuss how the interactive part of the workshop will work," said Gardella.
Buffalo District Army Corps officials who have been at recent CAC sessions are expected to be in attendance on Wednesday.
Gardella said CAC would continue discussions it began from last month on the new Corps reports. At CAC's Feb. 15 session, also at Lew-Port, CAC member Dr. William Boeck, retired professor of physics at Niagara University, opened with a presentation on climate and wind characteristics in the northern county area and conceivable wind patterns in the area of the IWCS. CAC then reviewed a structure of possible discussion areas for consideration by attendees at the March 28 workshop, gleaned from the latest Corps reports.
Gardella said those reports are designed to evaluate the risks associated with removing waste from the site during potential cleanup activities and include a radon assessment, meteorological assessment, and evaluation of potential human health risks of exposure to contaminants.
He stressed those documents do not present decisions, but the information will be used to help develop and evaluate specific remedial alternatives in the feasibility study, part of the formal process by which the Army Corps will identify a preferred approach to clean up the site. The reports are being discussed to help ensure that the public understands these important aspects of the cleanup, he said.
"All members of the community are strongly encouraged to join us to take advantage of the important community opportunity to help shape the Army Corps workshop and provide the community with the resources it needs to stay effectively involved in the cleanup of the NFSS," Gardella said.
He said that CAC's role at the March 28 Corps workshop will be to participate and gather the community's concerns and comments. "The CAC will then compile a formal, specific and organized response that reflects the broad range of community concerns and issues and provide a path forward. These will be reviewed at a CAC meeting in April and then be presented to the Army Corps."
For more information on the CAC, visit www.loowcac.org.