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Radioactive waste: facts or spin?

I wrote a story a few weeks ago about concerns a radioactive site in Lewiston was leaking.

   The story was published on the cover of the Niagara Weekend section and on Sunday, July 19. Click here to give it a read.

   In the piece, members of an advisory group to federal regulators raise questions about conclusions being made about contamination found at the Niagara Falls Storage Site in Lewiston.

   I also spoke with Michelle Rhodes, the Army Corps of Engineers' acting program manager for the site, for the story.

   On Monday at 5:19 p.m., the day after the story was published, I received a mass e-mail from a staff member of the corps' community outreach team. It linked to an item the corps' Web site responding to my story. Read the full corps' response here.

   Here's some of what the corps' message:

" 'Beyond the Headlines' addresses factual errors, omissions, or misconceptions contained in media coverage about the Corps projects at the former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works Site or [Niagara Falls Storage Site]."

   No one from the corps called me or e-mailed me with any concerns about what was written in the story. The response just appeared in my inbox.

   So I called the corps to ask if anything was incorrect or misleading in my story.

   Representatives told me they wanted to "elaborate" and "clarify" their points on the issue.

   And just a note: this isn't the first time the corps has responded to a published Buffalo News story this way. They did it four times last year. Click here and scroll down to "news releases" to see them.

   The July 19 article mentions how the agency has been virtually ignoring the advisory board for more than a year, saying the group no longer meets its guidelines.

   Here's a story from last November that reveals the type of relationship that exists between regulators and community members.

   The board has been trying to enlist the help of federal, state and local lawmakers in order to regain access to information from the agency.

   -- Aaron Besecker


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