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Draft Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Plan - Hearing Report, January 14, 2004

Hearing Report, January 14, 2004



In the Matter



Helene G. Goldberger
Hearing Officer
at Niagara Falls Public Library

January 7, 2004

Pursuant to the requirements of Environmental Conservation Law § 27-1102 and the State Environmental Quality Review Act, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Department or DEC) convened a legislative public hearing to provide an overview and receive public comment on the draft Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Plan (Plan)and the supporting draft generic environmental impact statement (DGEIS). This hearing was conducted in two sessions at the Niagara Falls Public Library, 1425 Main Street, Niagara Falls, NY at 2:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on January 7, 2004.

Based upon criticisms concerning the location and timing of the hearing for this Region that the Department staff had received prior to these sessions, the staff decided to hold an additional session of this hearing in March 2004 at the Lewiston-Porter High School. In addition, the public comment period for receipt of comments on the Plan and the DGEIS has been extended to April 19, 2004.

Approximately 30 persons attended the afternoon session and approximately 50 people were at the evening session. At the afternoon session, 17 people spoke and at the evening session 15 individuals provided oral comments including one person who had also spoken at the earlier session. Everyone who indicated an interest in speaking was given the opportunity to do so. A transcript of all the comments was taken.

At both sessions, the hearing began with Engineer Deborah Aldrich of the Department's Division of Solid and Hazardous Materials providing a summary of the Plan.

All of the members of the public who spoke at the January 7 sessions of this hearing voiced criticisms of the Plan. Some of these individuals were elected representatives, others were members of various environmental organizations such as Residents for Responsible Government and the Sierra Club. Many were local residents from the Towns of Lewiston and Porter speaking on their own behalf.

Valerie Pillo, Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte's representative, voiced the dismay of the member as to the length of time it took for the Plan to be published and stating that it contained no comprehensive plan to address the only commercial hazardous waste facility in the state - Chemical Waste Management (CWM)- and its plans to expand. This speaker, as well as almost every other, expressed disappointment over a lack of proactive determinations to provide for equitable distribution of siting of hazardous waste landfills.

Sue Senecah spoke on behalf of Senator George Maziarz. Senator Maziarz pointed to CWM as the main issue in the Plan as this facility is the only hazardous waste landfill in the state. He also pointed to the disproportionate burden that this area of the state bears with this landfill as well as other disposal sites including 742 brownfields. He criticized the current draft Plan as inadequate because it has no plan for the future or for the phase-out of the CWM landfill. He stressed the need for the Commissioner and other government leaders to pay close attention to the comments of the citizens and to respond to their needs.

Lewiston Councilman Michael Johnson expressed the view that the stigma of Love Canal remained with the area thus hampering the creation of jobs. He stated that the process for the development of the Plan was important to the Lewiston-Porter area. He explained that truck traffic was the biggest problem as there were few areas for the trucks carrying hazardous wastes to pass that would not go through neighborhoods or schools.

Many of the speakers expressed concern over the link between health effects such as cancers and the landfill. Several people pointed to the Department of Health study in Ransomville and the data showing an increase in certain cancers as a reason to deny further landfilling of hazardous waste in this area and to do more study and monitoring of public health impacts. In addition, several speakers expressed concerns about the relationship of the CWM site and the disposal site for radiological materials from the Manhattan project and the extent of radioactive contamination.

Many of the commenters objected to the fact that greater amounts of waste are imported into the CWM landfill than are exported from New York State.

Clyde Burmaster of the Niagara County Legislature stated the County Legislature's unanimous opposition to the Plan. He argued that the Plan did little to satisfy a 1994 court order of Justice Mintz and was not responsive to the people's concerns. He stated that Niagara County had become a dumping ground. He maintained that the siting of CWM near many tourist locations was poor planning. In addition to Legislator Burmaster, a common theme of most of the speakers was a criticism that the Plan had no specific strategy for distributing the effects of hazardous waste landfilling including a plan for the future when either CWM is full or there is a need for more landfill space in the state.

Dr. Mark Gallo, Associate Professor of Biology at Niagara University, used a model to demonstrate his concerns that leachate from the CWM site could filter through groundwater to Lake Ontario, contaminating this huge supply of freshwater.

Several speakers also expressed a desire to see a discussion of alternative technologies for treatment and disposal of hazardous waste in the Plan. Many questioned the need for a hazardous waste disposal site in New York based upon the Plan's report that there was adequate capacity in the United States for disposal.

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