NY Legislation Passed to Help Great Lakes

NY Legislation Passed to Help Great Lakes

By Bill Roland, Residents for Responsible Government

Residents for Responsible Government, Inc. (RRG) in Niagara County, NY applauds action by both state chambers to pass legislation that will restrict commercial hazardous waste landfills from locating in the Great Lakes System if there is the potential for contamination. After the Niagara County legislature unanimously passed the initial bill, RRG rallied the public to get involved.

The vast majority of hazardous waste landfilled in New York State is imported. Up to 400,000 tons annually can be imported and buried in Niagara County. According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, 30 states, Canada, and off-shore currently import into the Town of Porter site operated by Chemical Waste Management (CWM). The EPA has confirmed that there is sufficient national capacity, and RRG feels that New York State no longer needs to import and maintain a commercial toxic waste landfill, in Niagara County or in any part of the Great Lakes Basin. This is a state-wide bill designed to protect all areas of New York State that are within the Great Lakes Basin.

This legislation has language to resolve a conflict between current New York State Hazardous Waste Siting Law and state obligations under the 1986 Great Lake Toxic Substances Control Agreement, an international agreement executed by all Great Lakes states including New York State. The 1986 agreement, along with a 1978 Great Lakes Agreement, established the objective of “zero discharges” of persistent chemicals into the Great Lakes System. Yet, until now, New York Hazardous Waste Siting Law has no prohibition on facilities that accumulate and discharge such contaminants.

It has been a long up-hill battle in this northwest corner of New York State. “When you see [a company] spending over $1,200,000 for lobbyists over four years,” continued Agnello, “it is a big red flag!”

As this article goes to press, RRG said that they can’t rest yet. “After the governor gets it, he has 10 days to veto or sign into law, or else it will become law.” explained RRG Vice President April Fideli. “When I spoke to Governor Pataki, he was interested and supportive of preserving the environment and tourism in this area, he wants to be the ‘environmental governor’ and I believe he’ll show the public that he cares.” RRG stated that, locally, everyone cares and cited support of labor unions, local radio, and numerous environmental groups from across the country that stepped forward to endorse this basic legislation. “The whole community sends a most gracious thanks to all supporters!” said Agnello.

RRG is a non-partisan organization, formed in 2002, to help inform residents of the hazards of toxic waste in the Western New York Region, especially the chemical and radiological materials in and around a site that sits in the middle of the Lake Ontario Ordinance Works, a major WW II munitions production and radioactive handling and disposal site located one mile from the Niagara River.

For more information:
Bill Roland, Residents for Responsible Government Inc.
Box 262, Youngstown, NY 14174
PH: (716) 791-4562 • Website: rrg-wny.org

 

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.