Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

July 22, 2013

OUR VIEW: Buy out Water Street properties

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — We all know that Eighteenmile Creek is polluted, especially in the area around Water Street, where several homeowners are asking that the federal government buy their properties so they can basically get the heck away from their contaminated land.

When that possibility was brought up by a homeowner at a recent meeting, a federal official suggested that it was indeed a possibility. We’re skeptical about the sincerity of that reply. It makes too much sense, which makes it ripe for being shot down by bureaucrats. Not only that, but the feds seem intent on another solution.

What is the solution that the Environmental Protection Agency has suggested? A “temporary” fix consisting of capping the land with clean dirt until a permanent plan can be carried out. The price tag on this temporary cap is $1.2 million.

Huh?

Why would the EPA suggest spending $1.2 million to spread dirt on land that is prone to flooding? Would it really cost that much to dump dirt on contaminated land? Probably not. There are studies that would have to be conducted and maps to be consulted and created, we’re sure. And that’s where a lot of the money will end up. Then a far greater amount will be spent on the permanent solution.

It seems to us that the most cost-effective solution at this point is to buy out the homeowners at a cost of less than $300,000 instead of spending four times that amount on a temporary plan. The remaining $900,000 could then be applied to the permanent remediation. One wonders why this isn’t given serious consideration and how often this occurs throughout the United States.

We’re also not sure how the EPA decided who would qualify for a buyout. How can one property make the cut and the next door neighbor’s doesn’t? Especially when all of the residents are being told not to plant or eat vegetables and fruit grown in their yards.

Some will argue that buying out these homeowners is not the way the federal government should spend public money, However, the EPA’s job is to mitigate. When people live in a cesspool of carcinogens, it seems that that the best solution would be to use the money to help these people out.

Buy them out and then find a permanent solution and stop this nonsense of a “temporary” cap.