Schimminger Seeks Renewed Federal Intervention in Landfill Controversy

October 9, 2007

Assemblyman Robin Schimminger is asking Tonawanda’s federal representatives for their assistance in cleaning up the Town of Tonawanda Landfill. “Two decades ago, the federal government made a commitment to clean up Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) waste in Tonawanda,” Schimminger said. “Now it is time to finish the job.”

In his letter to Tonawanda’s federal representatives, Schimminger drew parallels between today’s problems with the landfill and the early efforts to remediate the Linde/Praxair and Ashland I and II sites that had been contaminated by radioactive waste from the World War II Manhattan Project. “Twenty years ago, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposals met with strong opposition because they were not in the best interest of our community,” Schimminger noted. “Today’s proposed plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to leave the radioactive waste in the Tonawanda landfill is, again, not in the best interest of our community.”

Citing prior legislative and administrative precedents, Schimminger called on Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter to review prior federal legislation and DOE commitments to remove FUSRAP waste from Tonawanda in order to ensure that the landfill is covered by those earlier promises. The landfill has only been designated as a FUSRAP “vicinity property” and not an actual FUSRAP site. Schimminger noted that this technicality might downgrade the importance of the Tonawanda landfill clean-up. Schimminger asked that legislative action be taken to change the designation or otherwise direct the removal of all Manhattan Project waste from the Town of Tonawanda landfill. Schimminger also requested that soil and hydrology testing be undertaken by the Corps to assess any potential risks or hazards faced by Hackett Drive residents, and that funding be included in the 2008 federal budget for this clean-up and for reimbursement to the N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation for FUSRAP-related testing done to date.

“Radioactive waste in the Town of Tonawanda landfill must be treated in the same manner as the waste already removed from other Tonawanda FUSRAP sites and disposed of out of state,” Schimminger concluded. “The residents of Hackett Drive in the City of Tonawanda deserve the same testing and assurances given to Town of Tonawanda residents and Praxair employees that their immediate environment is safe and without radioactive hazards.”