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COLONIE: Site cleanup in final stages

As of September 2006, the end of the federal fiscal year, the site had cost $172 million to clean up, $33 million of which had gone toward shipping waste out west.

In April 2006, the engineers had cleaned 80 percent of the site when they hit a large pocket of Uranium 238 contaminated soil. Engineers estimated that roughly 600 cubic yards of soil would have to be removed. By the time they had cleaned the parcel, they had dug up 3,000 cubic yards and found themselves with no additional funding to ship it off site.

It was the second such hurdle for the dig. In 2004, engineers ran into another deposit of contaminated soil nearly double what they anticipated. It set work crews back nearly a year.

Working from west to east, workers remove contaminated soil from half-acre sites at a time. In total, about 200,000 cubic yards of soil has been removed.

It has been a long time coming for Colonie, said Kevin Bronner, a town board member who will not seek re-election this year for a third term on the board.

Bronner said he is pleased to see the site clean. For him and his family, the cleanup of the National Lead site, a half-mile from where he grew up in Albany, has been something of a personal mission.

Bronner grew up on Rosemont Street in Albany. His father, David E. Bronner, an Albany area attorney, began looking for answers about the site after some urging by neighbors.

"My father theorized that a lot of people on our street were dying predominately of cancer," said Bronner. "It's never been proven."

The number of people suffering from various forms of cancer in the area of the site surprised his father, said Bronner. He and another prominent Albany attorney, Stephen R. Coffey, took the state and federal government to task. Their fight started in the late 1970s and came to an end when initial steps toward cleanup began in 1984.

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