LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature delayed action Tuesday on extending its contract with an environmental attorney to fight the proposed expansion of CWM Chemical Services’ landfill.
CWM wants the state Department of Environmental Conservation to allow expansion of its hazardous-waste landfill, which otherwise would run out of space in a few years.
“Stop ’em! We don’t need any more garbage in our county!” resident Shirley Nicholas of Lockport shouted to loud applause.
But after a lengthy Republican caucus, the measure was sent to the Legislature’s Administration Committee, which will meet with attorney Gary A. Abraham, of Allegany, on Nov. 12. If the renewal passes there, it will be back on the Legislature agenda Nov. 19.
The legal arrangement, which dates from 2005, calls for the county and the Town of Lewiston to alternate in paying $50,000 to retain Abraham.
The measure was sponsored by Legislature Vice Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster, R-Ransomville, and Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield.
Burmaster said, “We are opposed to any further toxic, hazardous waste being brought to our county and dumped in the Town of Porter forever. … If indeed there is no need to worry, why don’t [CWM’s customers] leave it where it is?”
He said he hoped the Legislature would eventually come together unanimously to rehire Abraham.
Last week, the Lewiston Town Board placed $50,000 in its tentative 2014 budget for Abraham’s services.
County Attorney Claude A. Joerg said the county started its latest $50,000 retainer with Abraham in April 2012 and exhausted it in a year. In the last six months, the county has paid an additional $18,000 to Abraham, money that Joerg thinks ought to be reimbursed by Lewiston.
R. Nils Olsen Jr., of Youngstown, a University at Buffalo law professor, told the Legislature that Abraham is a former student of his.
“He’s also very reasonable. Most of the funds have been expended on hydrologists and other experts,” Olsen said. The data could be used to prevent CWM from “fastening on the county 20 more years of hazardous waste.”
April D. Fideli, of Youngstown, president of Residents for Responsible Government, said the expansion might actually give CWM 30 to 40 more years. “Ten million tons is enough,” Fideli said, referring to the amount of waste at CWM’s landfill.
“For too long, we have shared our roads with 80,000-pound trucks that overturn near our schools and kill our loved ones, including my son Ryan,” Timothy P. Henderson, of Lewiston, told the legislators. “You can end this environmental injustice tonight.”
Wendy Swearingen, of Porter, said the county needs Abraham to counter CWM’s expansion plan.
“If there is no one to speak for us at the hazardous waste siting hearing, it probably will happen,” Swearingen warned.