New York town could face $1 billion in lawsuits for alleged landfill violations

New York town could face $1 billion in lawsuits for alleged landfill violations

Plaintiffs claim “Love Canal waste constituents” migrated off the old Niagara Sanitation landfill into North Tonawanda residential properties.

January 26, 2017

Current and former neighbors near landfill owned by the town of Wheatfield, New York, are threatening to sue the town for a total of almost $1 billion, accusing the town of failing to clean up a toxic landfill, according to a report in the Buffalo News.

So far 16 notices of claim have been filed and the town says it expects more. Each of the notices demands $60 million in damages amounting to $960 million so far. The filing of the notices gives the plaintiffs 15 months to follow up with lawsuits.

Attorneys representing the plantiffs, both current and former residents of Forbes Street, say in the article their clients have experienced a host of symptoms ranging from headaches, nausea, respiratory issues and nervous system disorders.  

The plantiffs claim waste has migrated off the site of the old Niagara Sanitation landfill into residential properties on and near Forbes Street in North Tonawanda. New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) reportedly disagrees with the claims. A March 2016 site update from the DEC referenced in the article notes, "Surface water is confined to the landfill in ponded areas and does not run off the site. No significant off-site contamination is anticipated due to a naturally existing clay layer beneath and around the landfill which limits the migration of contaminants from the landfill.”

The DEC says contaminated sediment and groundwater appear to be confined to the landfill property upon preliminary findings but it will continue to investigate and develop a cleanup plan for the site to be completed in 2019.

According to the article, the town of Wheatfield has owned the 20.8-acre site near the intersection of Nash Road and Niagara Falls Boulevard since the 1950s. Former company, Niagara Sanitation allowed companies to use it as a dump for chemical and industrial waste until 1968. It also received waste from the Love Canal landfill which was disturbed by the Department of Transportation during the construction of an expressway and buried in a trench at the site. That material was hauled away in 2014 and 2015, and burned at an incinerator in Nebraska.

According to the article, residents received results of soil testing they had privately paid for, and those tests confirmed the presence of chemicals on their properties, including "Love Canal waste constituents that had migrated onto their properties."

An attorney for the town claims the law firms involved have been “canvassing for plaintiffs,” the article says.