Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 4, 2013

LOOW contamination findings debated Wednesday

Restoration Advisory Board Technical Chair Ann Roberts is thoroughly convinced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is contradicting itself about uranium contamination at a particularly troubling location in Lewiston.

She says the interim waste containment structure on the grounds of the Niagara Falls Storage Site in the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works is, indeed, leaking. And despite claims to the contrary by the site's caretakers, she said the most recently released data can prove it.

"What they're reporting is not what they've found," Roberts said during a RAB meeting Wednesday.

Roberts' disagreement stems from a report given by the Corps to the LOOW Community Action Council two weeks ago that attempted to disprove any concerns over leakage coming from its IWCS structure. Instead, the report claims, high levels of uranium in the soil surrounding the site stem from residual and historical contamination from before the structure was built between 1982 and 1986.

During the Army Corps's presentation, representatives cited data showing contamination levels at specific trouble spots held constant at about 900 micrograms per liter, unthinkably high levels of uranium present in groundwater near a supposedly properly operating containment structure. They claimed it was safe, though, because the constant level showed there's no threat of leaking and that the environmental effects of the uranium were minimal as no drinking water source was affected. 

But the RAB technical chair said the numbers she's seen fly in the face of the assertion. It turns out, she said, uranium levels are jumping by large numbers. She's basing her claim on two studies done by the Army Corps, including its 2003 remedial investigation.

At that time, she said, one particular trouble spot south of the IWCS mound showed contamination of 958 micrograms per liter. By comparison, natural occurrence is about five micrograms per liter and the federally mandated drinking water standard is 30 micrograms per liter.

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