Niagara Gazette

Local News

August 1, 2013

DEC oversight called into question as Covanta work comes before proper approval


Niagara Gazette — According to the DEC, the company has submitted an application for a Title V permit renewal, with various updates to incorporate changes in regulatory requirements and interpretations and a major modification to allow installation and operation of the new steam expansion project. The deadline for submission of public comments on the application is Aug. 5. 

In their letter, the trio of residents reference a section of state regulations concerning “unpermitted emissions sources,” which prohibits “construction or operation” of a new, modified or existing air contamination source without a registration or permit. 

“It prohibits construction or operation, either one,” Witryol said. 

The letter indicates that when asked in an email dated May 10 whether Covanta can begin construction of the gas boiler (without operating it) in advance of permit removal, the DEC’s air and permitting staff did not respond. When asked again on July 18, the letter states that DEC indicated had “already provided several responses to the question.” The residents say they were not aware of any response. 

The letter notes that the proposed project is located in an “Environmental Justice Community” and questions the “adequacy and reliability” of air monitoring and pollution reduction for existing incinerators, noting that the last air dispersion model for Covanta’s existing waste incinerators was produced by the company’s predecessor in 1993, according to the DEC. 

“Please act immediately to suspend all work on facilities which have not been permitted and direct the applicant to dismantle them,” the letter reads. “Any fines collected we hope would support technical assistance for the Environmental Justice Community and affected areas.”  

Officials from the DEC did not respond to requests for comment about the residents’ letter on Wednesday.

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