Schumer Says EPA Must Conduct Updated Assessment Of Identified Radioactive Hotspots To Determine How Dangerous They Are, Then Feds Must Work With Community and State To Develop Full Remediation Plan 

Schumer: 40 Years Have Already Passed – EPA Must Move Into Higher Gear for Niagara County

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct an updated and comprehensive assessment of the numerous  radioactive hotspots in Niagara County and the Grand Island area. The hotspots are a result of radioactive waste byproducts left over from prior industrial uses. Schumer said the EPA must do this to update the precise locations and to determine how dangerous these hotspots are, as well as work with local community leaders and residents to develop a full remediation plan to clean up the affected properties. Schumer therefore said the EPA must immediately conduct a comprehensive assessment-and-remediation plan and share that review with the public to protect public health and for residents’ peace of mind.

“The extent of these radioactive hot spots in Niagara County and the lack of clear information about them means that the EPA needs to step up its game to address this problem. The bottom line is that we need better information from the EPA as to the extent of these hot spots, how dangerous they are, and what exactly we can do to clean them up ASAP,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why the EPA must conduct an immediate assessment of these hotspots and work with the local community and state regulators to develop a remediation plan. It is high-time we do right by these Niagara communities and homeowners and businesses.”

According to a report from Buffalo’s Investigative Post, more than 100 hotspots were identified by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy over four decades ago. However, only one-third were cleaned up, leaving the other 60 plus properties untouched and potentially hazardous to public health. The report explains that these hotspots with radioactive waste could be due to nuclear weapons development through the Manhattan Project in the area, or the material manufactured by former commercial metallurgical companies in Niagara County.

Schumer said the federal government needs to double their efforts to make sure all impacted properties are cleaned up. Schumer said that because these properties have already been neglected for 40 years, the EPA needs to expedite any bureaucratic hold ups and work hand-in-hand with the community, to comprehensively review these hotspots and determine which locations should be cleaned up. Schumer said a clean-up plan is necessary following the updated assessment to ensure residents and their families are safe from any public health risk. Schumer said this is an especially poignant issue, as both the EPA and the National Academy of Sciences have concluded previously that there is no safe level of radiation for humans.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to the EPA appears below:

Dear Administrator McCarthy,

I write to urge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct an updated and comprehensive assessment-and-remediation plan of identified radioactive hot spots in Niagara County, New York. It is of great importance that through this process the EPA works with homeowners, businesses, the state and community groups to fully understand the potential risks that could be present at each site. In addition, I urge you to publicly develop and announce EPA's remediation recommendations. New Yorkers in the affected communities have been waiting too long for information about next steps.

As you know, radioactive hot spots with elevated levels of radiation well over what naturally occurs in the environment have been identified across Niagara County. It is my understanding that the source of contamination is still not fully known, but the majority of radioactive material has been found in the form of gravel and cement believed to have been sourced from radioactive byproducts leftover from prior industrial uses. This issue was first identified 40 years ago and some sites have gone through the clean-up process. I understand that EPA has conducted additional testing of some sites in recent years and has plans to remediate a select number of contaminated properties in the near future. However, I urge your agency to work with the local community to develop a comprehensive remediation plan to address all remaining hot spots across Niagara County.

Again, I urge the EPA to work with local stakeholders to conduct an updated assessment and clean-up plan for the identified radioactive hot spots across Niagara County. Thank you for your attention to this important request.


Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator


Previous Article Next Article