by Terry Duffy
Members of the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works Community Action Council held a productive session with the U.S. Army Corps, Buffalo District, earlier this month at Lew-Port. Discussions covered the Corps' ongoing feasibility study on the Interim Waste Containment Structure at the Niagara Falls Storage Site.
Much of that meeting involved planning, notably on the Corps' next technical memo and expected public presentation covering Remedial Alternatives for the IWCS. Both are the latest in a now years-long feasibility study process undertaken by the Corps to determine the future of the IWCS. The Corps is expected to release the Remedial Alternatives memo this spring en route to a public presentation planned for June at the Lewiston Senior Center.
The Corps IWCS feasibility study itself isn't expected to be finalized until sometime in 2014, followed by release of a record of decision on the site's future, by late 2014 or 2015.
In its exchange of its ideas with John Busse, LOOW/NFSS project manager for the Corps, and other attending reps, CAC members suggested topics for the presentation they felt could benefit residents. Among them was a good, detailed overview of the IWCS itself. Corps members agreed this would be helpful, in order to better reacquaint the community with the site and the NFSS overall - its operable units and balance of the property. It was also conveyed by CAC that greatly simplifying the presentation process with animations would be beneficial.
Corps attendees likewise felt this was needed, given the lengthy timeframe that's elapsed since its last public presentation to the community on the IWCS and NFSS in March 2012, plus the overall very complex nature of the topic.
Doug Sarno, Corps-appointed facilitator who works with CAC on conveying Corps' information on IWCS to the community, suggested the upcoming presentation also include discussion on enlisting government interest on funding. Noted was the very limited funding availability under the Corps' Formerly Utilized Sites Remediation Action Program covering IWCS, a complete lack of appropriated funding for future remediation cleanup at IWCS, the problem of multiple competing sites in WNY facing same funding dilemma, and the need for the community to engage local Congressional members to build support in hopes of enhanced government funding for IWCS remediation.
Discussions then moved to Remedial Alternatives for the IWCS, best described by the Corps as options that could be considered for the IWCS.
"This will outline the potential strategies" the Corps is considering, said Dr. Joe Gardella, LOOW-CAC co-chair, and John and Frances Larkin professor of chemistry at the University at Buffalo.
These will be our "actions taken to fulfill objectives," said Jane Stanton, Corps' project engineer for the NFSS. She said the Corps "general response actions" under consideration for IWCS would examine the technologies available, what is ultimately desired to be achieved at the site and how to best achieve it.
Options discussed ranged from taking no action at all, to varied treatment and containment work on the inside wastes but no removal; partial and/or complete removal of sectionalized IWCS wastes for disposal elsewhere; and a new option described by the Corps as "enhanced containment."
This would involve containment of the cell with land use controls, said Stanton. She said it would entail a redesign of the cell's sides and addition of soils to the existing clay cap. Among its objectives would be to provide for enhanced stability of the cell against any breakdown/erosion; further prevent outside intrusions; prevent/neutralize any influences from any seismic activity; and to greater secure the cell for a prolonged period of time. Under this scenario the cap would not be breeched and the existing IWCS contents would remain intact.
Corps officials stressed that this and the others discussed thus far in the Remedial Alternatives should be only considered as options and nothing further. At this point all these are "basically serving as qualitative analysis for the feasibility study," said Stanton.
Gardella wrapped up the meeting, reporting that CAC will be continuing its outreach with local staff members of the area's Congressional delegations, and that CAC would meet again on Tuesday, April 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Lewiston-Porter Community Resource Center to discuss updates. The session is open to the public.
For more on the LOOW-CAC, visit its website, www.loowcac.org.