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Bad dirt stays

Contaminated soil will have to remain at the site of a cleanup of a radioactively contaminated soil in Colonie as the federal government looks for money to continue to ship it west.

In April, the Army Corps of Engineers discovered five times the amount of contaminated soil they had anticipated in a particular area of the National Lead Industries plant on Central Avenue.

At the time, cleanup of the 11-acre site was 80 percent complete, said engineers. The 3,000 cubic yards of the Uranium 238-laden soil would prove to break the bank of federal money allocated to complete the dig by September.

\Our goal is to clean this up, but because we found more contaminated soil and we were supposed to be done this year, the corps didn't budget that much money, said James Moore, project manager for the New York District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Working from west to east, workers remove contaminated soil from half-acre sites at a time. To date, they have removed 175,000 cubic yards of soil.

The plan is to continue on with the cleanup of the remaining 3 acres on the site to meet the cleanup date. However, until money is secured to ship the soil to Idaho, engineers will have to pile the waste and keep it protected from the elements.

Cleanup of the site began in 1991 with the decontamination of homes and properties adjacent to the site. By the end of September, the end of the federal fiscal year, the site has cost $172 million to clean up, $33 million of which had gone towards shipping waste out west, said Moore.

Funded for the cleanup is through the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP). FUSRAP is a line item of the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill in Congress.

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