Greenpac Reveals Radioactive Waste Issue at Niagara Falls Mill
by Geoff Kelly & Louis Ricciuti
Last week, Greenpac Mill, LLC, filed a federal lawsuit seeking $50 million in damages from three companies the suit claims are responsible for radioactive contamination encountered while Greenpac was building its new $430 million facility at Royal Avenue and 47th Street in Niagara Falls.
The defendants are Occidental Chemical Corporation, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, and National Grid. The suit alleges that these companies are responsible for more than 20,000 tons of radioactive waste that Greenpac encountered and removed during construction, at a cost of $6 million.
According to the suit, the waste was discovered in August 2011. Its discovery was not made public at the time.
Greenpac’s attorney, Craig A. Slater, said that most of the radioactive material Greenpac found was under two building constructed in 1920 by Kimberly-Clark; much of it was attached to the underside of the foundations, he said, suggesting it was used as fill. The suit alleges that Occidental, and possibly other companies, was the source of the radiologically contaminated fill. Specifically, Slater said, Greenpac believes the waste was generated by the Oldbury Electro-Chemical Company, as a byproduct of phosphorus production. Occidental was Oldbury’s corporate parent.
National Grid is included because its corporate predecessors owned the land prior to 1920, and Slater said it was not clear whether Kimberly-Clark or National Grid was responsible for importing the waste material. The suit asks for $50 million in damages as well as the $6 million it cost to remove the radioactive waste, as well as compensation for any future costs associated with the waste.
It is certainly possible that all 20,000 tons of radioactive waste found on the Greenpac site, as well as waste found at the adjacent Mid-Town Little League baseball diamond, came from one company down the street a ways, a manufacturer of matches. But there are other, closer, more plausible candidates, too: For example, across the street from the Greenpac facility was the site of Union Carbide’s sprawling complex of mills, including Electromet, once ground zero for the production of uranium metal used by the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Energy Commission, generating tremendous volumes of contaminated waste that was often disposed of cavalierly.
Slater acknowledged that such discoveries are becoming too common in Niagara County. He said he’d recently given a presentation to an association of real estate lawyers. He asked how many of them were recommending walkover gamma radiation surveys for clients considering development of sites in Niagara County. The crowd was silent. “You need to do that,” Slater told them.blog comments powered by Disqus
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