Niagara Gazette

Local News

October 21, 2013

Months after retirement, DEC has yet to replace on-site monitor at Covanta plant


Niagara Gazette — “If you have a legal requirement for a monitor to be there, then it raises the question as to whether (the facility) can even operate without a DEC monitor on site,” she said.

The DEC issued a notice of violation against the company in August after Witryol, Hamilton and Kudela sent a letter to Martens alerting him to the company’s construction of a new smoke stack and boiler - part of an ongoing expansion project — without the required approval of a renewed air permit.

Witryol said she does not see how the DEC can expect the company to monitor itself when it has exhibited a willingness to perform work without permits.

“Now the DEC has effectively suspended that supervision for months with a company so brazen that it put a smoke stack up without a permit,” Witryol said.

The letter goes on to list other concerns tied to the company’s planned expansion that will allow them to accept waste from the New York City Department of Sanitation by rail.

The company reached an agreement with the New York City Department of Sanitation in late August which will see the company accept 1 million tons of waste per year for the next 20 years, with the option for two five-year extensions.

As much as half of that waste would come to the Niagara plant, according to a term sheet tied to the contract.

In the letter, the residents also ask Martens to consider a request from local block clubs and the local chapter of the NAACP that the DEC conduct a cumulative impact study for the area around the plant, citing New York State Department of Health data that lists Niagara County as the county with the second highest mortality rate from asthma in the state behind only the Bronx.

James Regan, a Covanta spokesman, said the plant operates within state guidelines and continues to be subject to the same state laws and monitoring that have been in place, and will continue to run emissions monitoring systems, despite the lack of a state monitor.

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