8 Mile Creek Cleanup Approved

October 29, 2013 Updated Oct 29, 2013 at 11:23 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

October 29, 2013 Updated Oct 29, 2013 at 11:23 PM EDT

LOCKPORT (WKBW) Eighteen Mile Creek in Lockport has been the source of controversy for decades, with industrial companies accused of polluting the water and surrounding land, and residents complaining of cancer-causing chemicals. Now the E.P.A. has a plan to help the neighborhood.

The Environmental Protection Agency has now finalized a $4 million dollar plan to clean up the creek, including buying out five property owners on Water Street and relocating them.

"Better late than never. We appreciate it, we wish it would have gotten done a little sooner, but it is what it is," James Stiles, who lives along the creek, tells Eyewitness News.

Stiles has lived in the same home along the creek all his life. His mother developed breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, which the family blamed on the contaminated creek and surrounding land. For him, relocating his young family is welcomed news.

"I've seen what happens when my mother got sick, and the long fight that she had to overcome. Knowing that we could dodge a bullet if you will, it's great for my family," Stiles added.

The EPA plans to demolish the five homes as well as the former Flintkote plant, all located along the creek. It will then test and clean the area of any hazardous chemicals.

"We're going to take the structure down which will allow us to test the property underneath the site to see if in fact there is any chemical contamination. And the only way to do that is to take the building down. And that is exactly what we are going to do," Michael Basile of the EPA said.

It could take two years to complete the first phase of demolition and testing, but it is progress for residents who have been fighting for this cleanup for decades.

"With everything that has happened, we're actually just waiting for it to end," Stiles said.