Brendan Keany

Schumer Calling for Nuclear Waste Clean-Up in Niagara County

He's looking for a $250 million spending increase for clean-up program

April 15, 2019 - 3:39 pm

LEWISTON (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - Senator Chuck Schumer was in Lewiston today calling for $250 million  increase in federal spending to an environmental clean-up program that would rid the Niagara Falls Storage Site of World War II-era nuclear waste.

"It's hard to believe that we could still be dealing with the aftermath of the Manhattan Project," said Schumer. "The fact is that a lot of the materials, including very dangerous radium-226, is still stored here, and let me just say that this is the largest concentration of radium-226, an dangerous, radioactive substance, in the world."

Four years ago, the Army Corps and community members agreed to an 8-10 year $490 million remediation project, but a lack of money has caused the site to remain untouched.

"We're going to launch a push to finally get this radioactive material out of Lewiston and out of Niagara County for good," said Schumer.

The storage site currently houses thousands of gallons of Manhattan Project waste, and it's being stored in concrete about 10 feet below the ground. Schumer is calling on a 260-percent increases in funding to the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP), which is a federal program that's designated to clean up nuclear waste material at contaminated former defense facilities.

"When the Army Corps of Engineers came here in 2015, they said it had to be done," said Schumer. "This is not something that a few people in the community just don't want here; this is something that our federal government says has to be taken care of."

Schumer did note that there is no immediate threat to public health, but in this type of situation, he says it's better to be proactive than reactive.

"It doesn't take a nuclear physicist to know that storing WWII-era nuclear waste under 10 feet of dirt for over 30 years is a bad idea," he said.

Listen to the full press conference below:

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