Bush signs bill
that may help clean up rivers
- The Niagara and Buffalo
rivers might get some help from an important antipollution
bill signed Wednesday by President Bush.
The legislation will provide $50 million a year for five
years to clean up
toxic sediment from the Great Lakes
and tributaries previously designated "areas of concern."
But cash-strapped states or localities have to come up
with 35 percent of the cash needed.
"This is something we have worked for for a long
time, at least 10 years," said Reg Gilbert of Great
Lakes United, a nonpartisan environmental research group
based in Buffalo.
Gilbert said the cost of removing industrial and agricultural
sediment from the lakes and rivers could run as high as
"But this is an important beginning," he said.
The government also has designated Eighteenmile Creek,
a salmon fishery in Niagara
an "area of concern." Because of contaminated
sediment dumped by industry, catches are released or discarded.
The legislation, co-sponsored by Sens. Hillary Rodham
Clinton and Charles E. Schumer,
New York Democrats,
won final passage in the House on Tuesday.
Research shows contaminated sediment has caused tumors
and impaired reproduction in fish, caused birth defects
in fish-eating birds and mammals, and increased the risk
of cancer in people.
Dredging, treatment and disposal of contaminated sediment
can cost $50 to $1,800 per cubic yard, with a median cost
of $300 to $450 per cubic yard, according to the Council
of Great Lakes Industries.
The legislation also provides additional funds championed
by former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., for environmental
work on Lake Champlain.
"With his signature, President Bush recognized what
we in New York
know well, that the Great Lakes
and Lake Champlain are natural
treasures that must be preserved," Clinton
News wire services contributed to this report.
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