Wheatfield landfill claims top $2.5 billion

Posted at 11:25 PM, Feb 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 16:57:52-05

Just about everyone living on Forbes Street in North Tonawanda will tell you their neighborhood is anything but normal.

“I want to get back to some sort of normalcy with my family. This is just tearing my family apart,” said Cory D’Agostino. He moved to Forbes Street over 10 years ago.

The backyards on the north side of Forbes Street are adjacent to an abandoned landfill. It’s also the North Tonawanda-Wheatfield border. Extra land used to build the LaSalle Expressway in Niagara Falls was moved to the Wheatfield landfill in 1968. Nine years before that land was deemed contaminated with toxic chemicals from the Love Canal environmental disaster.

A majority of that landfill has since been removed and incinerated.

People living around the dump are taking legal action against the town of Wheatfield for not properly cleaning the site and for health issues, including cancer and birth defects.

Lawyers for the people living around the landfill have filled 51 claims, totaling more than $2.5 billion. 

In a statement, the NYSDEC says: "Information available at this time indicates that contaminated soil, sediment and groundwater appears to be confined to the landfill property and is not impacting surrounding residential properties."

The law firms representing the neighbors conducted their own tests and say they have very different findings.  

Results from one home tested on Forbes Street shows levels of dioxin more than 100 times higher than what's found in a typical home. Dioxin can cause cancer. Their lawyers say the levels are in perfect proportion to what was discovered at Love Canal in the 1970's.

Since learning those about those levels, Cory D'Agostino pays a mortgage for a home he says he can't live in. 

“My daughter and my wife, we had to move them out of my home. We're living with my mother-in-law,” said D’Agonstino. He decided to take measures into his own hands. He posted a sign on his garage that reads: Danger Do Not Enter Toxic Dump Site.   

“It's just letting everybody know, be aware of what's going on here,” said D’Agonstino.

The Town of Wheatfield just acquired funding to fence off the land. 

The DEC, says they are moving quickly to investigate the nature and extent of the contamination and develop a clean-up plan. That investigation is expected to happen this spring.