LEROY, NY - The first of the more than 230 drums of materials from an aging Superfund site on Gulf Road were removed late this morning, bound for a hazardous waste facility in Michigan.
The drums contain rocks and dirt from test wells drilled after a train derailed near here more than 40 years ago, spilling chemicals.
"I went out to the sight just quietly a few Saturdays ago and saw the barrels were still there, and this community wants them gone," said U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY 26th) , in explaining that she and both of New York's U.S. Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, urged the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the barrels.
This was even though tests showed the materials in 90% percent of the barrels were non-hazardous and that while approximately thirty barrels did contain toxins, it was at levels below what would constitute a health hazard.
Still, concern over their presence was raised when several Leroy High School girls were beset with a condition marked by uncontrollable tics, and people here were desperate in their search for answers.
And, even though there's been no connection established between the Superfund site and those ailments, Hochul says that doesn't matter.
"We have never established a connection nor has anyone between these barrels and the health of these girls. But when you went out and saw this sight, and what an eyesore it was for the people who live in that area, they (the drums) should have been gone and they should have been properly disposed of long before now," Hochul told WGRZ-TV.
After languishing at the site for decades, Hochul says all of the drums should be removed by the end of the week.
"They should be done by Friday for sure, and they are going out of state which is very important to me as well," said Hochul, adding that the work is being done at no cost to taxpayers.
"Lehigh Valley Railroad is paying for it. They were involved in the spill back in 1970 and they're picking up the tab," Hochul said.
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