LEWISTON – The new Congress that takes office in January may hold the key to what, if anything, will be done during the next couple of years with the decades-old chemical and radioactive contamination at the former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works.
Members of the Community Action Council, or CAC, agreed Tuesday to reach out to newly elected and redistricted members of Congress and to their newly assembled staff members to bring them up to speed on the excruciatingly slow progress of cleaning up the mess left behind by the World War II production of TNT and components of the atomic bomb.
The CAC is an independent group of citizens interested in the fate of the old munitions works at the Lewiston-Porter town line. The council has no official status, but the Army Corps of Engineers has provided it with a technical facilitator, Douglas J. Sarno, to help guide it through the maze of regulations that could eventually lead to remediation of the site.
Meanwhile, the Corps contends that residues remaining on the site off Pletcher Road pose no hazard to nearby properties, including the Lewiston-Porter Central School campus on Creek Road.
The consensus among almost everyone on the CAC is that they would like to see “every last scrap” of soil, water and debris removed from the site, but Sarno reminded them that the Corps currently has no money for even a minimal cleanup, and that complete removal may be unachievable.
The facilitator suggested that the group spend the next couple of months getting the local congressional delegation behind a remediation program that would be acceptable to most stakeholders in the community.
The CAC is awaiting the issuance of two more technical memorandums from the Corps to help guide the decision-making process. Those memorandums are tentatively scheduled for release in April and July.
The Corps presented a slide program at Tuesday’s meeting to show technical details of its continuing program that monitors the soil, water and air at the former ordnance works to make sure that no contamination seeps outside its enclosed boundaries.