Niagara Gazette — YOUNGSTOWN — The state-appointed siting board charged with evaluating Chemical Waste Management's application for expansion at its Balmer Road facility took public comment in a two-part session on Wednesday at Lewiston-Porter Senior High School.
The 1 p.m. hearing saw a sizable turnout that included vocal opponents and supporters for the proposed addition of a second, 43-acre landfill at 1550 Balmer Road.
Opposition has been spearheaded by Residents for Responsible Government. Its spokesperson, April Fideli, was confident in the organization's position before proceedings began.
"We have a really good case moving forward," she said, "people will be shocked by what they hear about CWM today."
Lori Caso, CWM's local public relations representative, was measured in her expectations for Wednesday's hearing. "We're just here to listen," she said, her leather folio decorated with "I support a clean and green New York" stickers.
State Assemblyman John Ceretto began the first comment period. He staunchly opposes the site's expansion, specifically citing CWM's trucking activity as a threat to the community.
"Our first and primary concern must be the health and safety of residents," he said. He related an experience in which a tire broke lose from a CWM vehicle, damaging his car and three others behind the vehicle.
"When you transport toxic waste on highways, everyone's health and safety are in jeopardy."
Niagara County Legislature Chairman William Ross affirmed Ceretto's remarks, adding that the legislature "feels the same way" and stands unanimously against the granting of the application.
A.J. Wright, senior director of government relations at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, was the first CWM supporter to take the podium.
"I am in strong support of the approval of CWM's application," he said, calling it the "only in-state option for manufacturers" and an asset that could support industrial business expansion in the area.