Pictured above: the only hazardous waste landfill in New York State, the Chemical Waste Management (CWM) facility in Niagara County
Just a mile from the Lewiston-Porter Central Schools, two miles from the Niagara River and three miles to Lake Ontario, sits New York's only active hazardous waste landfill, the Chemical Waste Management (CWM) facility in the Town of Porter, NY. For 40 years, the residents of Niagara County and the nearby Great Lakes have been unduly burdened with this hazardous waste landfill, and now CWM is proposing to build another landfill adjacent to the existing landfill. The proposed new hazardous waste landfill, known as Residual Management Unit - Two (RMU-2), would bring more than four million tons of hazardous waste for decades to come. CCE strongly opposes RMU-2 because:
- Increased capacity is not appropriate or necessary
Dumping toxic waste in landfills is not the answer. New York State Law established a hierarchy for managing hazardous waste, which stated that landfilling is the least preferential method of managing waste. This hierarchy, in descending order of preference, is:
- Reduce the amount of waste generated;
- Reuse material for the purpose for which it was originally intended or to recycle material that cannot be reused;
- Recover, in an environmentally acceptable manner, energy from solid waste that cannot be economically and technically reused or recycled; and
- Dispose of solid waste that is not being reused, recycled or from which energy is not being recovered, by land burial or other methods approved by the Department (ECL 27-0106.1).
Additionally, the final NYS Hazardous Waste Siting Plan, released in 2010, correctly states "there is no need for additional hazardous waste management facilities or expanded hazardous waste management capacity in New York." EPA estimates that there is sufficient national capacity for hazardous waste through at least 2034, thus making any new or expanded facilities in NYS unnecessary.
There is a great deal of uncertainty about the long-term containment of hazardous waste in a landfill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes that all landfills will likely eventually leak. Hazardous waste leaks poses a threat to the environment, due to the close proximity to the Great Lakes, which contain 20% of the world’s fresh water and provide drinking water to more than 40 million people. Scientists recognize the Great Lakes are already on the tipping point of ecological collapse, and further chemical contamination is extremely detrimental to the ecosystem. CWM has also been charged for direct illegal discharges in to the Niagara River.
Pictured above: Hazardous waste truck bound for CWM overturned at the corner of Creek Road and Balmer Road, just past the Lewiston-Porter Schools. Photo courtesy of Residents for Responsible Government (RRG).
Ton after ton, trucks haul in dangerous toxic waste to this community, including a substantial amount of Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) – probable carcinogens that persist in the environment. Trucks pass directly by Lewiston-Porter schools on their way to CWM. CWM is only a mile a way from the schools, which consists of 2,500 students and 400 faculty members.
A 2008 study by the NYS Department of Health found elevated levels of cancer in the area, particularly children from the Lewiston-Porter school district. While the report did not prove a connection to the CWM facility and high cancer rates, the correlation raises serious concerns that require precaution.
CWM has been charged with a laundry list of violations that have occurred in recent years, many of which are included in the November 12, 2008 DEC Consent Order that penalized CWM $175,000 (DEC press release on violations). Violations in this enforcement action include discharge of foam directly into the Niagara River, leaking drums within the facility, stormwater violations, leachate level exceedances, and many more.
updated by bsmith 8/1/14