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Schumer says CSX CEO commits to solving garbage train problem

Sen. Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday he has secured a personal commitment from the head of the CSX rail company to take steps to end a long, foul-smelling nightmare for Depew residents.

CSX Chief Executive Officer Michael Ward, in a telephone conversation Wednesday, assured Schumer that his company will do everything possible to keep trains filled with garbage from idling on its rail lines along Walden Avenue in the village.

Schumer said Ward also promised to use deodorizers to reduce the stench that has long bothered neighbors who live near the idling trains.

“These smelly and noisy garbage trains should never have been idling in Depew, disturbing residents and negatively impacting their quality of life and, to his credit, CSX’s CEO, Michael Ward, recognizes that and has pledged to take positive actions,” Schumer said in a statement.

Currently, the smell from the garbage carried by the trains permeates large sections of the village, which residents said has prevented them from pursuing outdoor activities or keeping their windows open in warm weather.

Two weeks ago, Schumer urged the company to make village residents’ health and quality of life a priority and find an alternate, nonresidential location for the idling trains. He followed that up with a letter to Ward and a phone call.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that this is going to be a solution to a problem here in Depew, and I’d like to thank Sen. Schumer for getting on the bandwagon and getting us some help, because CSX is very hard to get ahold of or deal with,” Hammer said.

Still, she remained skeptical about any plans by CSX to deodorize its trains should they continue idling in the village.

“I don’t understand how they can even do it because each rail car has like three to four 10-foot-by-20-foot boxes that have highly compressed garbage or municipal waste inside them and the doors are closed,” Hammer said.

“So if something happens and they need to park a train in a residential area, you can’t possibly open these, so how do you deodorize them? To me, that made absolutely no sense, but maybe they have a way of doing it that I’m not aware of,” she added.

Hammer said she was told by CSX officials that the garbage was being shipped from South Kearney, N.J., through Central and Western New York on to its final destination of Colton, Ky.

“My main concern was that there’s more garbage that’s going to be coming up this way, and it’s going to be coming up from New York City ... by rail car and its going to the Covanta incinerator in Niagara Falls. Now that hasn’t even begun yet and I’m a little bit concerned about when that happens, because I don’t understand how they’re going to divert all these trains,” Hammer said.

She said she was told by a federal official that each box car carried solid municipal waste that is compacted with 62 cubic yards of refuse and about a 700-pound density per cubic yard.

In addition to securing a commitment from CSX to move the trains holding garbage and deodorize the smell, Schumer said Ward also pledged that trains carrying hazardous materials would never idle in Depew.