Everything Desantis Said Concerning Radioactive Waste Dump Was Wrong

For an indeterminate amount of time, this radioactive spoils pile was lying abandoned and unprotected on North Ave.

For an indeterminate amount of time, this radioactive spoils pile was lying abandoned and unprotected on North Ave.

 

It turns out that nearly everything City Planner Tom DeSantis told the mainstream media last week in connection with a radioactive waste dump on North Avenue was incorrect, and Tuesday he was back peddling in the Niagara Gazette after an investigation by that paper found that the reporting on the subject in this newspaper was correct.

DeSantis initially told the Gazette and other media outlets that the radioactive waste, dug up at the site of the Whirlpool Street train station and dumped on North Avenue by city contractors, had been there only two months, that signs warning of its presence weren’t necessary and that the material would be removed in two weeks.

The radioactive material represented no danger to the public, he said, insinuating that the Niagara Falls Reporter expose was “fearmongering.”

DeSantis was wrong on all counts.

Thomas DeSantis says the radioactive waste on North Ave. is safe.

Thomas DeSantis says the radioactive waste on North Ave. is safe.

Using Google Earth images, the Reporter determined that the city had been dumping the waste in the site at least as early as May 2015.

DeSantis did not directly address the apparent conflict in his Tuesday interview, but said “the soil pile has been in place since the start of the construction,” which would equate to about two years. He said 155 tons of soil was previously removed from the site, and around 100 tons remains.

The material is certainly hazardous enough that New York law prohibits it from being disposed of anywhere in the state, and it has to be hauled to the US Ecology EQ Wayne Disposal landfill in Belleville, Michigan.

DeSantis told the media last week that “exact isotope” was irrelevant to the situation, instead emphasizing that the soil “has a low level of radiation.”

He’s apparently changed his mind on that now as well. Test reports show the presence of radium, he admitted. Most famously, exposure to radium is generally thought to be responsible for the death of Nobel Prize winning physicist Marie Curie in 1934.

And, rather than continue to maintain that the material is “perfectly safe,” DeSantis admitted this week that neither he nor Alan Nusbaum, the city’s environmental assistant in DeSantis’ office, were not the “appropriate” people to speak to the matter.

Now DeSantis says there is no specific date for the removal of the radioactive material.

In other words, every single point of fact DeSantis told numerous media outlets last week in the wake of the Reporter story was completely untrue.

Two weeks ago, the Reporter visited the site and found that the gate of the fence had fallen down, and that large holes and tears appeared in the plastic safety sheeting used to cover the radioactive waste. In some sections, the plastic sheeting had blown off and the area was soaked with groundwater. The fence was repaired after the story was published.

In this case, DeSantis has shown himself to be an utterly unreliable source for truthful information. Why the media continues to report his assertions without fact checking is yet another unsolved Niagara Falls mystery.

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