Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 12, 2012

Planning to expand

Niagara Gazette — A company that operates a waste-to-energy incinerator in Niagara Falls is moving forward with a proposed $30 million expansion project that would involve development of a rail transfer station capable of accepting garbage by the ton from New York City. 

Covanta Energy, which operates out of a facility on 56th Street, received approval for a site plan tied to its proposed expansion from the city's planning board Wednesday evening.

"It's a good project," Planning Board Chairman Rick Smith said following Wednesday's meeting. "I wouldn't pass anything that I didn't think was beneficial to the city." 

The board's decision came several hours after officials from Covanta submitted an application for financial assistance for their project to the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

The project was met with enthusiasm from planning board members and NCIDA officials who welcomed the dozens of construction jobs and 20 permanent, full-time jobs the expansion is expected to create. 

"It's all good, good, good," said NCIDA Chairman Henry Sloma following the board's decision to accept Covanta's application for assistance and set a public hearing on the project.

Environmental advocates, including those who have been instrumental in an ongoing battle to prevent expansion of CWM Chemical Services hazardous waste landfill in the Town of Porter, were far less enthusiastic. They expressed concerns that the rail aspect of Covanta's plan could result in a sharp increase in the amount of trash being delivered to the Falls, thus further diminishing the environment in Niagara County as well as the community's overall appeal.

Covanta's existing facility at 100 Energy Blvd. off 56th Street makes steam for a half dozen nearby chemical and industrial operations. During a presentation for members of the NCIDA board of directors on Wednesday, Covanta business manager Kevin O'Neill said the company burns 800,000 tons of garbage a year to help meet power demands of businesses including Occidental, Goodyear, Praxair, Niacet and Norampac.

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