Results confirm no off-site impacts to surface soil from migration of landfill contaminants; additional groundwater sampling to begin this summer
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on Tuesday announced that results of recent soil sampling conducted at properties adjacent to the former Niagara Sanitation Landfill in the Town of Wheatfield confirm no contamination from the landfill is impacting surface soils on nearby properties.
DEC mailed the results and detailed analyses to homeowners last week.
Initial on-site sampling indicated off-site soil impacts from the landfill are unlikely due to limited areas of on-site surface soil contamination, levels of contamination in surface soils, and the fact that most surface soil contamination was located near the center of the property.
In March, at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's direction, DEC expanded its ongoing investigation to include surface soil testing on properties surrounding the landfill to ensure that contamination has been contained to the landfill. Results of the sampling conducted on May 10-11 confirm preliminary assessments that contamination has not migrated from the landfill to surface soils on neighboring properties.
One isolated sample from a yard detected a concentration of mercury that slightly exceeds the residential soil standard, but is one half the concentration acceptable for a commercial use site. This slightly elevated concentration of mercury was determined to be an anomaly not indicative of off-site migration of contamination from the landfill.
"The results are good news for the residents of the Wheatfield community," Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Gov. Cuomo has made getting to the bottom of this situation a priority to protect the public and provide residents with the peace of mind that comes with having the most accurate information available."
DEC took surface soil samples at depths of up to two inches on one commercial and 22 residential properties that immediately abut, or are in close proximity to, the landfill, and analyzed the results to determine whether migration of landfill contaminants has impacted off-site surface soils. Soil samples were sent to a certified laboratory and analyzed for semivolatile organic compounds, metals, PCBs and pesticide/herbicides. Laboratory data was then validated by a third-party validator to confirm that laboratory quality controls were within acceptable limits.
As soon as the validated results came in, DEC mailed letters to property owners summarizing their individual soil sampling results with a detailed analysis of raw laboratory data for chemicals detected at each property.
DEC will further investigate groundwater and subsurface conditions at the site this summer to supplement existing data, which indicates that contaminated groundwater is not migrating from the landfill. In addition, DEC will dig test trenches around the perimeter of the landfill property to verify that no waste was placed off the site property. DEC may undertake additional testing dependent on findings of the investigation. After DEC completes its remedial investigation and summarizes its findings in a remedial investigation report, the report will be available for public review. DEC will hold a public information session to help answer questions and address concerns about the report.
The Niagara Sanitation Landfill, which was in operation from 1955-68, accepted various wastes from the surrounding community, including nearby industries. In 1968, the New York State Department of Transportation used a portion of the landfill to dispose of contaminated soils generated during construction of the LaSalle Expressway. These soils were later determined to be contaminated by Love Canal waste generated by the Hooker Chemical Co., now the Occidental Chemical Corp. DEC performed three investigations in the 1980s, which determined no contamination had migrated from the site. DEC initiated a re-evaluation of the landfill in 2013, and discovered that areas of exposed contaminated materials were present, necessitating a reclassification to a Class 2 Superfund site in December 2015 to ensure this additional contamination is addressed. Occidental entered into a consent order with the DEC and voluntarily removed the Love Canal-related waste in 2014 and 2015 for disposal in an out-of-state, approved facility.
The Town of Wheatfield and the City of North Tonawanda supply public drinking water to their respective residents, so drinking water would not be impacted by the landfill.
DEC and DOH will continue to monitor the landfill to ensure the public health and the environment are protected.