Love Canal Record of Decision Signed

[EPA press release - October 26, 1987]

The final Superfund cleanup decision for the Love Canal creeks and sewers in Niagara Falls, N.Y., was signed today by Dr. J. Winston Porter, Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

The remedy will utilize on-site thermal destruction to clean up the dioxin-contaminated creek and sewer sediments. The residuals from the thermal treatment will be disposed of on site. The cost is estimated to be between $26 and $31 million.

"This remedy provides a realistic plan to deal with the dioxin contamination and is protective of human health and the environment," says Dr. Porter, manager of the Superfund program. "This is a very important step towards the cleanup of the Love Canal area."

Dr. Porter further noted that the Love Canal cleanup is indicative of the increasing pace of the national Superfund program. He indicated that work is underway at over 500 Superfund sites, with site work to be completed at approximately 25 sites this fiscal year.

A transportable thermal-destruction unit will be sited at Love Canal to treat all creek and sewer sediments as well as other contaminated materials that have resulted from the remediation process. The process will be capable of successfully destroying dioxin-contaminated materials. The remaining non-hazardous residues will be disposed of on site.

A dewatering/containment facility will be constructed to store and dewater dioxin-contaminated material before thermal destruction. Upon completion of thermal treatment, this facility will be substantially reduced in size to accommodate construction/demolition debris only.

Love Canal, a neighborhood in the southeast corner of the city and approximately one-quarter mile north of the Niagara River, first came into national prominence in the late 1970s when it was discovered that contaminated leachate had migrated to the surface of the canal and to nearby residential basements. Contaminants also migrated through area sewers to nearby creeks.

In October 1978, containment measures were undertaken at the site that included the construction of a tile drain and leachate collection system; placement of a clay cap over 16 acres of the canal; the erection of an on-site leachate treatment facility; and the installation of a fence around the area.

Approximately 1000 families have been relocated from the area and the homes adjoining the canal have been demolished.

In the fall of 1982, sewers leaving the canal were severed. In 1984, the installation of an expanded 40-acre cap was completed. A long-term monitoring/perimeter study was implemented to evaluate the effectiveness of the leachate collection system and to assess the contaminant migration in the soil and groundwater at the site. Preliminary results indicate that pollutants have been confined to the site, and the amount of contaminated groundwater treated at the leachate treatment facility has decreased since the cap was extended.

This past summer, $2.5 million was made available for the buyout of additional properties at Love Canal. Funds for maintaining the remaining homes were also made available.