Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 3, 2014

Covanta issued notice of violation issued over failure to report fire

Niagara Gazette — Covanta Niagara has been issued a notice of violation by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for failing to report a fire to the agency within the required time frame.

The state’s environmental watchdog agency issued the violation on Feb. 24, notifying the waste-to-energy facility of the in a letter from Regional Materials Management Engineer Dennis Weiss.

Covanta paid a $67,500 fine to the DEC in January after being issued a notice of violation in August for performing unpermitted work on an expansion project last summer, making this the company’s second citation from the agency in six months.

Covanta did submit an incident report within the required five-day time frame detailing the Feb. 16 incident at its facilities off of 56th Street, but failed to give verbal notification within 24 hours, as is required by state law for “emergency events, including but not limited to fires, explosions or on-site spills,” according to the letter from Weiss.

The company also failed to report the spill of hydraulic fluid during the fire discovered during a visit from a DEC investigator on Feb. 19, according to the letter.

State law requires that DEC be notified within two hours of the spill of any petroleum product into the environment.

“Additionally, to this date Covanta has not provided the department with an estimate of the quantity of hydraulic fluid that was released,” according to the letter.

The company faces fines of up to $34,000 a day for every day of violation.

Covanta’s Environmental Engineer Chris Schifferli sent the incident report to Weiss on Feb. 20.

The company activated its contingency plan and quickly extinguished the fire and, with the assistance of the Niagara Falls Fire Department, wetted the surrounding area to prevent the fire from spreading, according to the report which provided a detailed timeline of events.

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