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DEC issues conference addresses plaintiffs' concerns on CWM

Sat, Jul 14th 2018 07:00 am
Staff reports
The ongoing process on deciding the long-term operations fate of CWM Chemical Services LLC took another step forward Tuesday at the Lewiston-Porter Creek Road campus. There, Administrative Law Judge Daniel O'Connell, joined by members of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Siting Board, held a daylong pre-adjudication issues conference to evaluate community concerns over CWM's filed applications. Considered were petitions focusing on the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit (SPDES) and Air State Facility (ASF) permit modifications filed earlier by the company, but not completed at the time of DEC's April 2015 issues conference in Youngstown.
Those issues and how the DEC ultimately decides on CWM bear huge on the community.
At issue is CWM's proposal for a Residuals Management Unit 2 hazardous waste landfill at its Balmer Road facility. CWM first submitted the expansion application allowing for RMU-2 in 2003. It was met with widespread community opposition. If ultimately approved by DEC, it could lead to construction of a new RMU-2 facility and trigger the return of assorted large-scale hazardous waste landfill operations, including PCBs, to the River Region.
As said, it's a prospect that many in the area oppose and have come to fear. On Tuesday, O'Connell reviewed various elements of petitions filed by plaintiffs organized in united opposition to the CWM proposal. Plaintiffs include the Town and Village of Lewiston, the Village of Youngstown, 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.
Joining them were various DEC representatives and attorneys, plus attorneys and officials representing CWM and its parent company, Waste Management.
"The purpose of today's issues conference is to consider proposed issues for adjudication related to the June 2017 draft State Pollution Elimination System and the December 2017 draft Air State Facility (modifications)," O'Connell said.
He led off by stating that advocacy status had been granted to Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and the Tuscarora Nation.
From there, discussion topics, oftentimes complex, were presented and covered a wide range of issues. Included were SPDES concerns related to the past and the prospect of new CWM biochemical discharges into the Niagara River; whether CWM was adhering to U.S. EPA parameters covering any new or existing discharges; the impacts of CWM discharges on the Great Lakes Water Initiative; whether CWM had followed SPDES provisions on its applications; and impacts of CWM activity on the River Region's waterfront communities.
Also, questions over CWM past activity pertaining to air/dust dispersals and health risks pertaining to the ASF permit; questions over DEC interpretations over what air releases could be legally permitted or not, including those relating to dust, radionuclides, PCBs, dust contaminates, etc., in CWM operations; questions concerning the acceptability of meteorological data on air quality testing, the types addressed, from what locations, the short and long-term implications, etc.; the relevancy of CWM's operations on the community, including its location to Lew-Port and impacts from truck activity; questions over CWM ancillary activities since the close of its RMU-1 landfill; questions on health risk assessments; questions on the various economic impact considerations to the community from CWM's past operations and the potential from RMU-2; and whether the siting board had adequately considered a broad range of concerns, relating to landfill operations and air quality, CWM's proximity to Niagara Falls Storage Site; health risk assessments, etc.
O'Connell closed the day-long discussions by stating he would present "interim rulings" pertaining to the SPDES and ASF permits, which will then be subject to appeal. He also said he would deny certain petitions, but he didn't elaborate.
"(These are) adjudication rulings that are still subject to appeal ... the siting board will consider the evidentiary record (with respect to CWM) applications, (the past) rulings," O'Connell said.
Details on the actual rulings by O'Connell from the many issues discussed at the conference were not available as of press time.

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