November 24, 2022

EPA to test and measure long-standing Buffalo River clean-up efforts

BUFFALO, NY (AP) – The long effort to clean up the Buffalo River could pay off in the next few years.

The Buffalo News reported on Sunday that the Federal Environmental Protection Agency had told a local United States official that the winding waterway could lose its status as an environmentally hazardous area, or “area of ​​concern.” , by 2025.

“It’s miraculous,” Democratic Representative Brian Higgins, who has fought for the cleanup of the river since his days as a South Buffalo board member in the 1980s, told News. “The Buffalo River is emerging as a recreational waterfront with exciting new possibilities after decades as a contaminated and poisoned industrial waterway. “

After an eight-year project to remove contaminated sediment from the river is nearing completion, the EPA will conduct testing over the next several years. This includes a test in 2024 to assess whether it is safe to lift a restriction on the consumption of fish and wildlife. If further tests are passed the following year, the nominee will be removed.

The river suffered heavy industrial pollution for decades and even caught fire in 1968. About 9 kilometers of the river, along with the City Ship Canal, was designated as an area of ​​concern in 1987.

Aided by the Obama administration’s $ 100 million, as part of a nearly $ 4 billion Great Lakes restoration initiative, the clean-up efforts have gradually turned part of the river into a recreation area with waterfront apartments and bars near downtown Buffalo.

“When we first started things it looked like an impossible task,” Bill Nowak, an activist involved in the cleanup campaign since the 1980s, told News. “It’s just amazing: you know, the amount of hope and the fact that it’s now a real resource instead of just a dirty body of water that you wanted to stay away from that would probably smell n any day and that would seem to be the case. injure yourself if you try to swim in it.