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State DEC invites comment on air-emissions rules for planned CWM landfill

PORTER – The public will have a chance to weigh in on the air monitoring regulations that would apply to construction of a proposed new CWM Chemical Services hazardous waste landfill.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has released the draft air-emissions permit, setting the dust control rules CWM would have to follow if it is allowed to dig a new 43.5-acre landfill beside its existing one on Balmer Road in Porter and Lewiston.

The company’s current landfill ran out of space last year. The proposed new landfill is being opposed by most local governments in Niagara County and local environmentalists.

In April 2015, a conference was held in Youngstown on the issues that would be addressed in further proceedings, but since then no further meetings have been held or scheduled, according to Gary A. Abraham, the attorney retained by Niagara County, the Town of Lewiston and the villages of Lewiston and Youngstown to fight the CWM application.

Lori A. Caso, spokeswoman for CWM, confirmed that nothing is on the schedule at the moment.

Daniel P. O’Connell, the DEC administrative law judge presiding over the process, had hoped to hold a hearing this summer on issues that weren’t appealed after he decided in December what issues would be part of a trial-like “adjudicatory hearing” on CWM’s application. However, that won’t happen.

Abraham said after discussions among the parties, “There are no issues that can be adjudicated early … I think it’s totally on hold.”

The air permit is important because of the dust that would be stirred up in construction and operation of a new landfill. CWM’s 710-acre property is part of the old Lake Ontario Ordnance Works site, where the federal government disposed of nuclear waste from the World War II atomic bomb project.

Thus, any dust disturbed at CWM could potentially contain radioactive materials, CWM’s opponents contend.

“This draft air permit addresses comments from last year’s issues conference and from the DEC,” Caso said.

“Dust occurs throughout the life of the landfill. They dig it cell by cell,” Abraham said. “Hauling in dirt from outside generates dust, too.”

Caso said CWM is in the process of filling in a pond next to the old landfill, called Fac Pond 8, which held toxic runoff from the old landfill. She said the dirt is being trucked in from two ponds being dug on the Thomas Fleckenstein property on the north side of Balmer Road.

The draft air permit requires CWM to set up at least six air-monitoring sites and a weather monitoring site at DEC-approved locations for use during construction and operation of the proposed landfill. The material also will be available through CWM’s website.

Abraham said the regulations are very technical, and he awaits an analysis by the soil expert he has retained, Ranijit Sahu of Alhambra, Calif., before turning in his comments to the DEC.

Public comments on the permit are to be sent to Mark F. Passuite at the DEC’s regional office, 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo, NY 14203, by Aug. 12.

Another permit, pertaining to CWM’s discharge of treated runoff from the proposed landfill into the Niagara River, also has been a subject of dispute. The DEC had issued a draft permit this spring increasing the amount of chemicals CWM was allowed to discharge, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put a stop to that plan. The permit was to be revised, but so far that task has not been completed, Abraham said.