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DEC Siting Board hears many concerns

Sat, May 2nd 2015 07:00 am
Siting Board members confer with stakeholders and DEC officials at this week's Issues Conference in Youngstown. (Photo by Terry Duffy)
Siting Board members confer with stakeholders and DEC officials at this week's Issues Conference in Youngstown. (Photo by Terry Duffy)

Siting Board to tour area next week

By Terry Duffy

Editor-in-Chief

The state's Department of Environmental Conservation's Siting Board Issues Conference on the CWM Chemical Services expansion permit application came to an abrupt end Thursday in Youngstown.

When it was all said and done, Administrative Law Judge Daniel P. O'Connell, who heard on a wide number of pertinent issues over the course of three days from stakeholders Gary Abraham, Nils Olsen, Rick Dystra and Amy Witryol, declined to offer a ruling. Rather he and the eight member Siting Board will continue to evaluate and determine the merits of a host of applicable issues that saw extensive discussions from the parties, including the stakeholders and their witnesses, CWM attorney Daniel Darrah and a panel of officials from DEC.

Issues presented by the stakeholders were quite involved and extensive. An overview included:

•Hydrogeological concerns involving groundwater, even the presence of underground rivers in the proposed area of the Residuals Management Unit 2 hazardous waste landfill

•Air emissions and monitoring, and questions over such airborne contaminants as SVOCs and PCBs from CWM on-site fugitive dust operations

•Questions over the RMU-2 landfill falling under existing or new State Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits

•Questions over CWM operations relative to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Great Lakes Monitoring Agreement between the U.S. and Canada

•Questions over the types, thickness and consistency of clays underneath the proposed RMU-2 site

•Extensive discussions over the presence of radiological contaminants on the CWM site, those dating from World War II and post-war-related government activities, as well as those from the 1970s-80s timeframe of landfilling by CWM predecessor Chemtrol and CWM

•Questions over lead agency status on State Environmental Quality Review Applications, both historical and current, involving DEC and the state's Department of Health on CWM's permits

•Questions over existing capacity, need and necessity and whether CWM's operations are in the public interest, relative to issues argued and contained in the state DEC 2010 hazardous waste siting plan law

•Arguments over the impact of CWM operations on the area's health, its safety, property values and economic value. Extensive discussions included comparisons on such communities as Lewiston and Clarence, the impact on the neighboring Lewiston-Porter School District, traffic issues and quality of life

•Transportation issues, particularly those concerning health, safety and quality of life to the area from the continued activity of hazardous waste trucks in the area going to and from the CWM site

•Arguments over the practice of area clay mining activities relative to CWM operations and future impact

•Extensive discussions on CWM parent company Waste Management's closure plan of the CWM site should a permit be denied, the issues of perpetual maintenance of the property and long-term financial liability and questions over the long term economic benefits to the community

•Concerns over CWM wastewater discharges in area waterways and company adherence to regulations, liability and land values

•Questions regarding CWM landfilling activities in the towns of Lewiston and Porter and zoning issues

•Questions over the CWM operations relative to the commerce clause and its practices of receiving wastes, hazardous and otherwise, from both in-state and out-of-state generators.

All of these issues remained open and unresolved as O'Connell and the Siting Board convened on Thursday. O'Connell and the Siting Board had arranged for use of First Presbyterian Church in Youngstown for up to eight days but opted to conclude its Issues Conferences in just three days. A number of concerns from those presented above, particularly those related to SPDES permits to the company were said to remain in question.

Next up for O'Connell and the Siting Board will be a tour next week of the Lewiston and Porter area. Included is a look at the CWM Balmer Road operations, an examination of CWM outfalls into the Niagara River and a view of the truck routes leading to the CWM facility.

No timeframe was issued by O'Connell or the board with regards to an ultimate determination on CWM's expansion or long-term operating permit.

"Before making any decision regarding permitting, DEC will examine all aspects of the proposed project," said DEC spokesperson Thomas Mailey. "DEC will not grant permit modification unless it can be demonstrated that the modification is in compliance with all legal requirements and that the proposed activity can be done safely. Additionally, CWM must obtain a siting certificate from the Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Board, which is part of the permitting process."

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