The former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works (LOOW) is a 7,500 acre site located in the towns of Lewiston and Porter, New York. In 1941, the Department of Defense (formerly Department of War) purchased land in Niagara County for the purpose of manufacturing trinitrotoluene (TNT). The LOOW manufactured nearly 42 million pounds of TNT in a nine month period, ceasing its TNT operations in 1943. During this time period, production and storage areas were built that mimicked barns, including a power plant, emergency medical facility, dormitories and water supply and waste treatment facilities. After the TNT plant was decommissioned, the Manhattan Engineering District of the US Army Corps of Engineers was given control over the property, and in 1944, a 1,500 acre portion of the LOOW was designated as the Niagara Falls Storage Site (NFSS), which is considered to be one of the most notorious radioactive storage sites in the United States. From 1944 until 1952, thousands of tons of radioactive wastes from the Manhattan Project and Atomic Energy Commission activities, including radioactive residues and wastes created by processing uranium ore at Linde Air in Tonawanda were buried at the Niagara Falls Storage Site.
During the mid-to-late 1950s, other sections of the LOOW were used by the United States military. In 1956, the US Army constructed a Nike surface-to-air missile base on the northern edge of the LOOW. When the missile base was decommissioned in 1966, the US Air Force acquired the base in order to conduct radar and communications research. Bell Aerospace also conducted rocket tests for the Air Force at Plant 38 at the LOOW. The Air Force also built an experimental plant (Air Force Plant 68) in which the Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation produced experimental boron-based jet and rocket fuels. The US Navy also operated an experimental boron fuel plant in conjunction with Olin Mathieson at the LOOW. Up until 1971, boron was produced in building 401 at the LOOW.
In 1971, the New York State Department of Health restricted the use of land inside the Niagara Falls Storage Site because of hazardous radiation levels. In the decades that followed, investigations conducted by the US Army Corps of Engineers, state and federal agencies and groups of private citizens indicated that the soil at Lake Ontario Ordnance Works was potentially contaminated with a myriad of hazardous and toxic chemicals and materials, including asbestos, uranium, boron, plutonium, cesium, hydrazine; chemical warfare agents (phosgene); and biological warfare agents (anthrax).
A large portion of the original 7,500 acre Lake Ontario Ordnance Works property is currently owned by federal and local governments, active waste disposal operations, commercial businesses, private homeowners and other organizations. A hazardous waste disposal operation (CWM Chemical Services, LLC), a municipal solid waste landfill (Modern Corporation) and a radioactive waste containment facility (Niagara Falls Storage Site) occupy neighboring properties in the central portion of the LOOW. The New York State Army National Guard also maintains a training area on the north side of the LOOW. Lewiston-Porter Central School purchased land on the western edge of the property in 1948, and has since constructed school buildings on the site. The health and safety of homeowners, students and teachers from potential toxic hazards at the LOOW and NFSS sites has been the topic of many community meetings throughout the past two decades.
In addition to radiation concerns, asbestos-containing materials were used in the construction and maintenance of the buildings at the former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works. Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos-containing materials were utilized throughout many buildings at the former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works. Asbestos-containing pipe covering covered steam and chemical lines. Boilers were insulated with asbestos-containing cement and asbestos block insulation. Asbestos was also incorporated into packing material and gaskets used inside pumps and valves. Corrugated asbestos cement board, or transite, was used as a siding and roofing material on many buildings at the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works and Niagara Falls Storage Site. Workers who applied, removed or manipulated asbestos-containing materials, or individuals who were in the vicinity of where this work took place, are at risk for developing mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Our clients understand the importance of securing legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you or a loved one were once employed at the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works in Lewiston and Porter, New York, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.
The former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works is listed as a Department of Energy (DOE) site under EEOICPA. Laborers who worked at various facilities involved with the Manhattan Project or Atomic Energy Commission activities may have been exposed to excessive levels or radiation. For more information regarding EEOICPA claims visit: https://www.dol.gov/owcp/energy/