BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP). The long-running effort to clean up Buffalo River could be rewarded in the coming years.
The Buffalo News reportedSunday, the federal Environmental Protection Agency informed a local U.S. Representative that the winding watersway could lose its environmental danger area status or area of concern by 2025.
This is amazing, said Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins. He has been fighting for river cleanups since his time as a South Buffalo councilman in the 1980s. After decades of being a polluted, poisoned industrial waterway, the Buffalo River is now a recreational waterfront with exciting new possibilities.
The EPA will conduct tests in the coming years after the eight-year-old project to remove contaminated sediments from the river is complete. The EPA will conduct a test in 2024 to determine whether it is safe and appropriate to lift restrictions on wildlife and fish consumption. If additional tests are passed in the following year, the designation will be removed.
The river was subject to heavy industrial pollution for many decades and even caught fire in 1968. The area of concern was designated in 1987 as the City Ship Canal and 6 miles (9 km) of the river.
As part of a $4 billion Great Lakes restoration effort, $100 million was donated by the Obama administration. This money has helped to transform a portion of the river into a recreational area, with waterfront apartments and bars close to downtown Buffalo.
It looked impossible when we started things, Bill Nowak, an activist who has been involved with the cleanup efforts since the 1980s, explained to the News. It is amazing. You know, the amount and quality of the water now that it is a resource instead of a dirty body of sewage that you would want to stay clear of.