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GLIN==> Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and U.S. EPA Sign Great Lakes Legacy Act Agreement for the Buffalo River

Riverkeeper and EPA Sign Great Lakes Legacy Act Agreement for the
Buffalo River

Contact:  Michael Basile, EPA (716) 551-4410, basile.michael@epa.gov or
Julie Barrett O’Neill, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper (716) 852-7483.

(Buffalo, N.Y. – Apr. 4, 2007)  In a move that highlights the success of
the Great Lakes Legacy Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) and Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper have joined together in
partnership to address contaminated sediments in the Buffalo River.  The
two entities signed an agreement to assess the contaminated sediments in
the river, which is an important step toward the eventual cleanup of the
River.  This agreement marks the first time that a non-profit
organization fulfills the role of local project sponsor for a Great
Lakes Legacy Act project to address contaminated sediments in the Great
Lakes Basin.

“This agreement underscores the commitment we and our partners have made
in response to a legacy of contamination in this Western New York
waterway,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator.  “This
partnership with DEC and the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper will improve an
important community asset by enhancing its environmental, recreational
and economic values.”

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper has been working with local agencies on
contaminated sediment cleanup efforts since 1990.  Through Riverkeeper’s
management of the Buffalo River Remedial Action Plan, significant
resources from the local, state and national level are now being
directed towards the cleanup of the Buffalo River.

Julie Barrett O’Neill, Riverkeeper’s Executive Director stated that,
“Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper in local partnership with New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), EPA, the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers, and our Buffalo River Remedial Advisory Committee, has
helped raise the priority for clean up and visibility of the Buffalo
River to a national level.  Through progressive collaboration with our
local partners, over the last several years, we have been able to make
significant progress towards the cleanup of the river.”

“The Lower Buffalo River assessment project represents another important
step towards environmental restoration of the Buffalo River,” said DEC
Regional Director Abby Snyder. “With assistance from EPA’s research
vessel, the Mudpuppy, over 170 sediment cores from throughout the lower
Buffalo River will be collected and analyzed beginning this June.  DEC
is pleased to be a partner in the collaborative effort to restore the
Buffalo River to a clean, healthy and vibrant community asset.  This
project is one more example of New York’s commitment to achieving the
goals of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration’s Strategy to Restore
and Protect the Great Lakes.”

The Lower Buffalo River assessment project will cost $800,000.  EPA has
committed $400,000 to the project, and Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, in
significant partnership with DEC is also providing in-kind services
valued at over $400,000 for the first phase of the project.

The International Joint Commission, the US-Canadian government
organization concerned with water quality, designated 43 of the most
contaminated areas around the Great Lakes as “Areas of Concern” (AOCs).
Nearly all of the remaining 40 AOCs suffer from a legacy of industrial
pollution that has left the sediments contaminated by toxic chemicals
and metals.  Two Canadian and one U.S. AOC have been successfully
restored and officially delisted.  Pollution from past industrial and
municipal discharges and waste disposal has earned the Buffalo River
designation as one of these AOCs.  River bottom sediments are
contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic, mercury,
other heavy metals and other industrial chemicals.

The Great Lakes Legacy Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by
the President in 2002.  Beginning in 2004, the Act authorized $270
million over five years to help with remediation of contaminated
sediment in designated AOCs within the Great Lakes Basin.  To date, six
other projects have been funded through the Legacy Act.  The Buffalo
River project is the first in New York State.

The Lower Buffalo River project will analyze the levels and volumes of
contaminated sediments within the lower three miles of the Buffalo River
Area of Concern (AOC), which includes the Inner Harbor and City Ship
Canal.  This Great Lakes Legacy Act Project will complement work
currently underway to assess the extent of contaminated sediments in the
Upper Buffalo River, from Hamburg Street to Cazenovia Creek.

Scientists will take samples of the sediment this June to determine the
extent of the contamination in the Lower Buffalo River, and to find ways
to clean up the contaminated sediments.  The same type of work is
already underway in the Upper Buffalo River, and should be completed
this fall.  The assessment project announced today is expected to be
completed in mid-2008.  The results will be used by the Buffalo River
stakeholders to design and submit a sediment cleanup proposal for
potential EPA Great Lakes Legacy Act funding in 2009.

For more information go to: http://www.epa.gov/glla/ or
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