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Schumer slams EPA for 'suddenly abandoning radioactive clean-up effort in Niagara County'

Press Release

Mon, Oct 9th 2017 12:30 pm
Demands immediate fed action - make good on promises and quickly clean up dangerous radioactive material
Senator demands swift action
Schumer to EPA: Lewiston and Niagara County residents deserve better than broken promises and backyard radioactive waste
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Monday demanded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency immediately return to Niagara County to expedite the clean-up of radioactive hotspots in Lewiston and Niagara Falls. Schumer said the EPA recently abandoned cleanup activities at one of the sites without a full explanation to local residents, and said the EPA should return to Niagara County as quickly as possible to immediately resume remaining clean-up efforts.
The hotspots are a result of radioactive waste byproducts from prior industrial uses.
In addition, Schumer said the EPA must continue to work with local community leaders and residents to develop a full remediation plan to clean up the affected properties.
"The EPA's abrupt departure has cast a pall of uncertainty and fear over these neighborhoods. Residents fear impacts to their health as well as detrimental effects to their property values and the local economy," Schumer said. "The bottom line is no family should ever have to live in fear about the impacts of a radioactive hotspot on their community. The EPA must get back to work addressing these toxic sites. I will continue to bang the drum as loud as I can until the EPA returns to the area, resumes clean-up of these toxic hotspots, and recommits themselves to working with the local community and state regulators until all of these hotspots are permanently eradicated." 
While the EPA has reported to Schumer's office that the source of the contamination that has led to dozens of these hotspots around Niagara County and on Grand Island is not fully known, in 2013 New York state authorities referred three properties in Niagara County that were contaminated with radioactive material to the EPA to investigate. Prior to withdrawing its resources at the end of the summer, EPA was in various stages of investigation and cleanup efforts of the three properties, which include the parking lot of a bowling alley on Niagara Falls Boulevard, the lot adjacent to Holy Trinity Cemetery, and a residential site on Upper Mountain Road. The majority of the radioactive material has been found in the form of gravel believed to have been sourced from radioactive byproducts sourced from prior industrial uses.
Schumer explained the EPA's work to remove radioactive material from the Niagara Falls Boulevard site, as well as investigations into the other two sites in Niagara County, has come to a halt. According to Schumer, residents and Niagara County officials have received little explanation as to why the work was stopped and when it will resume, which is why Schumer joined residents and local officials to demand the EPA return to these radioactive sites and resume investigative and critical cleanup efforts at the hotspots in Niagara County.
Schumer said residents in Niagara County have waited long enough for answers and cleanup work in their communities, and it is vital the EPA resume its work in Niagara County and complete these cleanup activities as expeditiously as possible.
Schumer was joined by Harry Wade, a resident who lives across the street from the Holy Trinity Cemetery site, and Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Broderick.
A copy of Schumer's letter to the EPA appears below:
Dear Administrator Pruitt:
I write in regards to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cleanup activities of radioactive hotspots in Niagara County. According to media reports, EPA work to remove radioactive material from hotspots in Niagara County has come to a halt, with little explanation to the community why the work was stopped and when it will be able to resume. I urge you to resume and complete cleanup work on these hotspots as expeditiously as possible.
As you know, in 2013, New York State authorities referred three properties that are contaminated with radioactive material to the EPA to investigate. The EPA is in various stages of investigation and cleanup between the three properties, which include a site on Niagara Falls Boulevard, a site at the Holy Trinity Cemetery, and a site on Upper Mountain Road. It is my understanding that while the source of contamination is not fully known, the majority of the radioactive material has been found in the form of gravel believed to have been sourced from radioactive byproducts sourced from prior industrial uses. According to media reports, the EPA recently halted cleanup activities at the sites without a full explanation to local residents of why work had to be stopped, and when, or if, EPA would return and resume cleanup activities.
I urge the EPA to return to these sites and to resume investigative and cleanup activities at the hotspots in Niagara County. I am particularly concerned about the news that the EPA has halted cleanup work on these sites, with no definitive and public plan to return, in light of the Administration's budget proposal, which proposed deep cuts to the EPA, including more than $330 million in cuts to the Superfund program in Fiscal Year 2018. Residents in Niagara County have waited long enough for this cleanup work in their communities to be completed, and it is crucial that the EPA resume their work in Niagara County and complete these cleanup activities as expeditiously as possible.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this important request. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.
Sincerely,
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator

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