by Terry Duffy
Monday, the state Department of Environmental Conservation made its long-awaited announcement that a notice of application for CWM Chemical Services LLC's planned expansion at the company's Balmer Road hazardous waste landfill is now complete and a comment period is underway.
"The public is now invited to review and comment on CWM Chemical Services LLC's proposal for its facility in Model City, Niagara County," said DEC in its announcement. "... CWM's applications are to build and operate a new landfill to be designated as Residuals Management Unit - Two (RMU-2), and for other storage and treatment units. The proposed RMU-2 landfill and other units will be used to dispose of and manage hazardous and industrial non-hazardous wastes at CWM's existing facility."
Public comments opened May 7 and were to continue through July 7. However soon after the DEC announcement came calls from the area's legislators in Albany for DEC to extend the comment period.
Under state Environmental Conservation Law, the governor must establish a facility siting board for CWM's Proposed RMU-2 landfill project. The facility siting board, expected to be comprised of three area residents and five selected by DEC, will be authorized to make a decision to grant the application for a Certificate of Environmental Safety and Public Necessity for the project, deny it, or grant it subject to modifications or conditions.
DEC will announce the appointments to the board when they are made.
"In the coming weeks, DEC will hold a public comment hearing on CWM's draft permit for its proposed facility," DEC Regional Director Abby Snyder said. "DEC will carefully consider all comments before making a final decision on the draft permit."
According to the DEC announcement, CWM currently owns and operates a commercial facility for the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous and industrial non-hazardous wastes on an approximately 710-acre site in the towns of Lewiston and Porter in Niagara County. Wastes accepted at this facility are ultimately disposed of in an on-site landfill or shipped to another appropriate facility for further processing and disposal. CWM currently operates under a required Part 373 Hazardous Waste Permit. If approved, this would authorize an expansion in CWM's current operations to include a new landfill. The new landfill would:
•Occupy approximately 43.5 acres and be located just west of CWM's existing RMU-1 landfill;
•Have a designed capacity of approximately 4 million cubic yards for the disposal of hazardous and industrial non-hazardous wastes;
•Reach its design capacity in a projected 10 to 20 years;
•Possess a double, composite liner system consisting of natural and synthetic materials with primary and secondary systems for leachate collection and removal; and
•Meet stringent regulatory operating and design requirements.
In addition to the development of the proposed RMU-2 landfill, DEC said CWM is proposing to construct and operate a number of new and modified waste storage treatment units, intended to replace existing units that would close during RMU-2 construction.
DEC will be scheduling a public hearing in the Niagara County area on a date or dates to be announced to accept comments. In the meantime, written comments can be sent throughout the comment period to: James T. McClymonds, Chief Administrative Law Judge, NYSDEC Office of Hearings and Mediation Services, 625 Broadway, 1st Floor, Albany, NY 12233-1550; email: [email protected].
Electronic copies of CWM's application and other CWM documents are available through CWM's website at www.modelcity.wm.com/. Additional documents that provide further details on the draft permit, including DEC's fact sheet, positive declaration and copy of the draft permit are available on DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/9075.html.
Hard copies of DEC's fact sheet, draft permit and CWM's applications also will be available for public review at the following locations:
•Youngstown Free Library, 240 Lockport St., Youngstown, and Porter Town Hall, 3265 Creek Road, Town of Porter;
•DEC's Region 9 office, 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo, (contact person: Mark Passuite at 851-7165); and
•DEC, Division of Environmental Remediation, 625 Broadway, 12th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-7017 (contact person: Matt Mortefolio at 518-402-9814).
According to CWM spokesperson Lori Caso, the company is applying for a permit to construct and operate a new landfill cell within the existing facility boundary. Specifically, CWM proposes to construct a 44-acre cell, referred to as Residuals Management Unit-2 (RMU-2), to accept waste from brownfields and environmental cleanups as well as industrial and hazardous waste generators.
"This site is vital to clean up efforts in New York state. Brownfield and remediation efforts rely on CWM for safe disposal of their hazardous wastes. Industrial and manufacturing companies that need to dispose of residual wastes depend upon the facility as the only in-state option for such materials," said Caso.
However, many in the area, from local environmental interests, to elected officials in the village and town of Lewiston, Village of Youngstown, the Niagara County Legislature, to the area's legislative members in Albany are far less than enthusiastic on the DEC announcement. In fact local opposition, which has been heavy on this at times over the past several years, is only starting to reignite and fully expected to intensify.
State Sen. George Maziarz, and Assembly members Jane Corwin and John Ceretto issued a letter this week to the DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, urging that the 60-day public comment period on the CWM hazardous waste landfill expansion that began May 7 be extended to 120 days. "The residents of Lewiston, Porter, and beyond are extremely concerned about the dumping of more hazardous waste in their backyards, and rightfully so. They deserve to have every chance to make their concerns known to the DEC," said Maziarz.
"Sixty days is simply not enough time to fully read, research, and comment on all of the documents and paperwork involved in the CWM expansion proposal. We need to give this proposal the absolute highest level of scrutiny," said Corwin.
Assemblyman Ceretto added, "I would like to make sure everyone has an opportunity to research and voice their opinion on this important subject, thus ensuring that the people's voice is heard."
Lewiston environmentalist Tim Henderson said he expects the review process locally to become "pretty contentious," but added he is glad it is finally getting started and that he envisions a favorable outcome for the area. "I'm cautiously optimistic the days of Lewiston and Porter being dumped on by the rest of the world are coming to end. We've done more than our share. It's environmental injustice of the greatest magnitude."
Henderson said he's been encouraged by Gov. Andrew Como's environmental stands, noting the governor's push for clean industry and also Como's hesitancy to open up hydraulic fracturing activities in New York.
Adding to that is DEC's recent determinations of no additional need for hazardous waste landfilling at CWM.
"I'm anxious to get into the hearings. (The) siting process is in the 15th round," said Henderson. "It's been a long contentious process - we're all a little battle scarred," of this.
"The fact that DEC (already) stated that no additional landfill is needed, I'm surprised that they're moving ahead," Henderson said. "But I'm encouraged (by the remarks of Maziarz, Corwin and Ceretto)."
"DEC is getting the message," he added.
As to CWM, "They're always going to be there," he said. "But closures are not unheard of. And remember, this community has already borne more than of its fair share of this."
Closing, Henderson commented, "I've never been able to understand what supporters of CWM find so attractive about hazardous waste. There are those that claim, mistakenly, that we'll somehow lose money if CWM closes. When a community's fiscal health depends on how much hazardous waste is buried in its backyard, it's time to rethink their business plan!"