Niagara Gazette

Opinion

May 13, 2014

CONFER: All of Niagara County should say 'no' to CWM expansion

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — From the river to Love Canal to an Eighteenmile Creek so stricken with poison its fish can’t be eaten (despite it being a tourist destination for fishing), it’s no wonder that we all know someone who has suffered from cancer, MS and other ailments that are more pronounced here than in most other regions of the country.

It’s likely CWM isn’t to blame for any of that, but decades of direct exposure to the same chemicals that they are bringing here — just under different circumstances with different corporations (many of which no longer exist) — are to blame. We need to learn from those mistakes.

CWM’s landfill will possess a double composite liner system consisting of natural and synthetic materials with primary and secondary systems for leachate collection and removal and it will meet stringent regulatory operating and design requirements. Even so, anything can happen. These are containment systems designed by and built by man, an erred species, so leaks can and do occur.

On top of that, people regularly make mistakes or deliberate “errors.” Case in point: In 2008, CWM agreed to pay a $175,000 penalty to settle a series of violations of its operating permit and state hazardous waste laws. At the time, the DEC noted dozens of violations including improperly labeled, deteriorating and leaking drums, disposal of non-hazardous waste without approval, process tank overflows, waste transporter conditions compliance failure and other issues.

Those are just some of the problems that can occur on-site. Consider what can happen off-site. These wastes have to come from somewhere, and will be trucked in, as they are now, from all corners of the country, from communities that know better than to store hazardous wastes in their backyards. Those trucks pass through our neighborhoods, by our schools and near our creeks. Sooner or later, one of those trucks will have an accident (especially given our five months of winter driving). When that happens, who knows what will be unleashed.

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