EPA finalizes plan to clean up 18 Mile Creek

Posted at 11:06 AM, Jan 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-31 18:41:15-05

Eighteen Mile Creek in Lockport and several adjacent properties have been contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead and other contaminants for some time now. That may soon come to an end.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says they just finalized its plan to remove contamination in the creek corridor section of the Eighteen Mile Creek Superfund Site in Lockport. The corridor extends from the Erie Canal to Harwood Street in Lockport, and is approximately one mile in length.

"It's full of garbage and full of old industrial equipment and things of that nature," said Michael Dietz who has lived on Van Buren St. near the contaminated portion of Eighteen Mile Creek, all his life. A creek that's contaminated with PCB's and lead.

"It's not exactly a healthy environment," said Dietz. "We grew up playing in it. We didn't know any better. Our parents told us to stay out of it but like typical kids played in it anyway."

To make that environment safer, the EPA has finalized its plan for the next phase of a massive project to clean up the creek. Phase two will require the complete removal of contaminated soil from old industrial and commercial properties along the creek. It's an extensive $23 million project.

"It's just a document right now," said Michael Basile, public affairs officer for EPA, region 2. "It is an extensive project because you're talking about ac reek that runs 15 miles from Lockport all the way through Newfane and Wilson all the way to Lake Ontario."

The EPA completed phase one last year, a much faster process than the one they are working on now.

"Phase one would happen quickly," said Basile. "Phase two would be a little slower but we're still happy in 2017 to come back with the second phase of the cleanup for the public."

It's what the public has been waiting to hear, including Dietz who says he's lost too many family members from living next to the creek.

"I would guarantee that probably from the carcinogens in the soil, it seems like everybody we know has lost somebody or something to cancer here... a lot of family members," said Dietz.

But he's staying put in his home off Mill St. in Lockport.

"It's where I grew up... I like it here!" said Dietz.

The EPA says it's such a big and extensive project it's hard to pinpoint a specific date on when the cleanup is actually going to happen, however they hope to start it in 2018.