LEWISTON – Tim Henderson, a longtime opponent of Chemical Waste Management's application to dig an additional 43-acre landfill in the Town of Porter, had a full head of hair and a clean-shaven face when he began speaking out against it.
Fifteen years later, Henderson's hair isn't so full anymore, and his beard has grown long, he said at a continuation of the proceedings on Tuesday on the Lewiston-Porter Central School District's campus on Creek Road. But the process continues.
"We have a right to clean air and freedom from trucks (transporting waste)," he said during a break in the hearing. "We're willing to sit it out."
Henderson said he was pleased to see Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, a regional environmental advocacy non-profit, and the Tuscarora Nation added as stakeholders in the process. The groups' first appearance was Tuesday and both were awarded participatory status for later hearings.
Waterkeeper's staff attorney, Margaux Valenti, said the group's focus is opposing what she described as the additional discharge of contaminated water – that CWM claims is not dangerous – which would carry chemicals that can accumulate in animal populations that are part of the Niagara River ecosystem.
Jenna Macaulay, the Tuscaroras' attorney, said the nation totally opposes the award of water and air discharge permits. Macaulay said excavation at the landfill would cause potentially toxic dust to fall over the nation's territory. Of the water concerns, she said the nation accepts a pollution level of "zero" in its ancestral territory.
"For the DEC to allow any acceptable level of pollution violates the nation's water quality standards," Macaulay said.
Attorneys for CWM maintained throughout the day the company would meet the statutory requirements necessary to receive the permits and that granting them would not create a public health threat.
R. Nils Olsen, an attorney and an opposition petitioner, represents the local district, among others. His concerns are diverse, but as it relates to the air permit necessary to excavate the additional dump, he said they are not unlike the Tuscarora Nation's.
Olsen said the campus where the hearing was held is about 1 mile from the hazardous waste landfill, which he added would host approximately 3,000 "very sensitive receptors," or young students, that could be exposed to the potentially contaminated airborne materials.
"That is the concern, that remains the concern, and explains I think in great deal the consistent engagement of this community with this property," he said.
O'Connell's rulings in regard to some of the air and water related issues remain forthcoming and will precede the process's next step, an adjudicatory hearing, in which the "siting board," or commission responsible for determining whether the facility is in the public interest, will offer an initial determination.
Lori Caso, a spokesperson, for CWM said the company was "very pleased with today’s proceedings" after their conclusion.
Gary Abraham, an attorney representing regional municipalities that oppose the siting of a new landfill, said he did not know why that would be the case.
"CWM has taken 15 years to get their application ready for a hearing, I don’t know why they would be pleased about that," he said.