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MOLINE AWAITING WORD ON DRUMS; TONAWANDA SUPERVISOR QUESTIONS LACK OF EPA ACTION

Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Ronald H. Moline Wednesday said he is still waiting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to order the removal of about 200 55-gallon drums of chemicals being stored at Polymer Applications Inc.

The River Road facility was the scene of a fire Monday after which it was discovered that chemicals stored at the site were not reported on records submitted to the town's public safety communications center.

Moline then requested that either the EPA or state Department of Environmental Conservation order the drums removed. By Wednesday, he said, nothing had been done.

"These drums are not labeled and represent a threat to this community, particularly to the volunteer firemen who must respond to emergency calls," Moline said in a letter sent to DEC Regional Director John J. Spagnoli Wednesday.

Volunteer firefighter were delayed from entering the warehouse Monday until the county's hazardous waste team could determine the content of the drums.

Moline said DEC officials notified him Tuesday that state investigators had been sent to the facility at 3445 River Road and determined the drums contained chemicals that are defined as raw materials or product and do not require a DEC permit for storage.

As such, Peter Buechi, DEC regional engineer for solid and hazardous waste, indicated Monday that the removal of such materials was out of the DEC's jurisdiction. Only if the drums contained hazardous waste material could the agency use its authority to seek their removal, he said.

Daniel Drazen, a spokesman for the EPA's Region 2 in New York City, Wednesday said federal officials were apparently unaware that they had been asked to become involved.

Drazen said EPA officials Monday received notification of the fire from an officer in the town's public safety communications center, but apparently did not take that as a formal request for EPA action.

"In such a case it is incumbent upon the town supervisor to make a formal request to the EPA, or DEC has responsibility to communicate with the EPA," Drazen said.

Moline Wednesday expressed annoyance at both agencies for the delay in action. Moline said he had been informed that DEC had contacted the EPA.

"If the drums (contain) product and the DEC does not have jurisdiction, who does?" Moline asked. "The DEC is responsible and should be communicating with EPA. It's not enough to say we don't have jurisdiction."

Efforts by The Buffalo News to reach Spagnoli and Buechi Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Moline said Michael P. Hazen, the town's supervising building inspector, informed Polymer owner Kevan Green Wednesday that a grinding and flaking of resins operation at the plant must cease because he had not obtained a performance standards use permit from the town Building Department.

Moline said Green apparently leased a portion of his warehouse to Quality Crushing, which has been conducting the grinding and flaking activity.

In addition, Moline Wednesday asked that Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials visit Polymer to determine if there are any workplace violations.

Polymer was nearly leveled in a spectacular explosion and fire on July 3, 1988, and has not yet resumed full operations.

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