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DEC to convene issues conference on CWM

Sat, Jul 7th 2018 07:00 am
Event expected to address SPDES, air facility permit process
Comment at issues conference limited to counsel for plaintiffs
By Terry Duffy
Editor-in-Chief
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will convene a pre-adjudicatory issues conference next week pertaining to a long-sought permit application by CWM Chemical Services LLC for purposes of siting a new hazardous waste landfill.
Open to the public, the session will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 10, in the Community Resource Center on the Lewiston-Porter School District Creek Road campus.
According to DEC, CWM "proposes to construct and operate a new landfill and ancillary facilities to store, treat and dispose of hazardous and industrial non-hazardous waste" in a landfill designated as Residuals Management Unit 2. The new landfill would be located on CWM's 700-acre-plus Balmer Road facility situated in the towns of Lewiston and Porter.
If the application is ultimately deemed appropriate by DEC, allowing for construction of RMU-2, and if it overcomes all obstacles, then, once complete, it would mark the return of large-scale hazardous waste landfilling operations in Niagara County. CWM, a Waste Management subsidiary, had ceased all hazardous waste landfilling upon the November 2015 closure of its RMU-1 landfill at the site, which had reached capacity. Since that time, CWM has seen its operations in Lewiston and Porter become sharply limited to that of lower level, primarily aqueous waste treatment activities.
The company operates in part of what was once the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works, a 5,000-acre World War II-era land facility that saw a number of wartime activities, including those related to the Manhattan Project, which led to the development of the nation's first atomic bomb.
Following the war years, portions of LOOW were broken off and sold to a number of interests. From the late 1970s onward, what is now CWM's property on LOOW's northern fringes has seen assorted landfilling activity, including hazardous waste. It was owned and operated by Chemtrol in the late '70s and acquired by CWM/WM interests in the late 1980s. Hazardous waste landfilling intensified as CWM's RMU-1 landfill operated on the site from the late 1990s until its closure in November 2015.
For years, CWM and its parent, WM, have been engaged in the RMU-2 application process with DEC. A landfill application was first filed by CWM to DEC in 2003, and, in the years of multiple DEC hearings and reviews that followed, the RMU-2 proposal was met with intense criticism and outright opposition by the community.
In recent years, as opposition continued, a number of community interests, including the Town and Village of Lewiston, Village of Youngstown, County of Niagara, the Lewiston-Porter School District, the northern Niagara citizens group Residents for Responsible Government, the Tuscarora Nation, the Niagara County Farm Bureau, Buffalo-Niagara Waterkeeper and Lewiston resident Amy Witryol, became actively engaged in efforts to thwart approval of the RMU-2 landfill proposal before DEC.
A DEC-convened siting board issues conference was held in April 2015 in Youngstown, where a large number of concerns - from WW II-era legacy contamination issues at LOOW, to CWM landfill operations, to mounting air, water and land impacts, to a host of growing environmental and community health issues, and more - were reviewed by the DEC siting board. From that time, siting board members and DEC officials reviewed and addressed pertinent concerns - a process that continues.
"Before making any decision regarding permitting, DEC will examine all aspects of the proposed project," said DEC spokesperson Thomas Mailey as the April 2015 conference concluded. "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."
Come Tuesday, DEC is expected to have its focus on the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit modification and the Air State Facility (ASF) permit modification applications filed by CWM, but not completed before the issues conference convened on April 28-30, 2015.
According to DEC, the SPDES permit application discussions will address whether CWM can discharge wastewater to Four Mile Creek, Twelve Mile Creek, as well as through a four-mile pipeline to the Niagara River located across from the entrance to Joseph Davis State Park. The air permit addresses CWM emissions from: operating a landfill and vented waste water tanks and lagoons; excavating at a site with legacy radioactive contamination; and treating hazardous waste in vented pits and smokestacks.
It notes, "The purpose of the Issues Conference is to identify substantive and significant issues that require adjudication (sworn testimony). ... Participation at the issues conference on July 10th (before the DEC judiciary branch and the State Siting Board) is limited to DEC staff, CWM, and those who file petitions."
While open to the public, actual comment before the DEC's judicial branch and state siting board will be limited to the legal counsel for the aforementioned plaintiffs named earlier.

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