Environmental attorney John Kolaga, believes the situation in Tonawanda sharply illustrates the federal government’s attempt to balance both scientific risks and political considerations in the environmental arena.
Because radioactive materials have been used in Western New York for decades – both in connection with defense projects like the Manhattan Project and in heavy industrial processes – elements of our radioactive history remains with us to this day. Kolaga recognizes the importantance for our community that the risks of this environmental legacy be properly evaluated and understood, and that the response to this history be appropriate and protective.
There is no substitute for good environmental data and experienced environmental counsel.
The federal government will remove less Manhattan Project radioactive wastes from a closed Town of Tonawanda landfill than state and local officials wanted.
But local officials said this week they’re relieved the Army Corps of Engineers plans to do at least something.
The Corps says that its remediation – which includes removing a 5-foot layer of soil — is a cost-effective solution that will protect residents in nearby homes in the City of Tonawanda and others for 1,000 years.
The 55-acre former landfill is located north of Interstate-290, adjacent to homes on Hackett Drive in the City of Tonawanda and an industrial park owned by the town.
Soil in the landfill contains elevated levels of radioactive material, including uranium, believed to be from wastes from the World War II era Manhattan Project – which produced America’s first nuclear weapons. Elevated levels of uranium have also been found in groundwater leeching from the landfill.
The full price for the partial remediation the Corps has decided to undertake is estimated at $12.2 million, according to the Corps’ final order of decision, which was issued this past week and made available for the public to view.