Expansion of Hazardous Waste Facility Threatens Lake Ontario

Expansion of Hazardous Waste Facility Threatens Lake Ontario

By Charles Lamb, Residents for Responsible Government

Chemical Waste Management (CWM), a subsidiary of the giant Waste Management Inc., has filed an application with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation for a new hazardous waste landfill, which is essentially an “expansion” of their existing facility in Model City, New York near Niagara Falls– only threemiles fromLake Ontario. Ironically, this is 10miles north of Love Canal, where the discovery of toxic waste buried beneath the neighborhood led to an evacuation of 700 families in the late 1970s.

Residents for Responsible Government (RRG) is organizing an opposition to the “expansion” starting with efforts to alert the public to the problemand to bring pressure on our lawmakers and governmental agencies to help us protect the Great Lakes and make our communities healthier. Specifically, Residents for Responsible Government concerns with the CWM expansion include:

  • Health threats to the community;
  • Impacts to Lake Ontario; and
  • Lack of oversite and enforcement of regulations at the facility.

The rate of many types of cancers near the CWM facility is greater than statewide averages. We are a residential and farming community with health statistics more resembling a chemical or nuclear area. Dr.David Carpenter of the Institute of Health and the Environment of the State University of New York at Albany says, “Our research studies have clearly demonstrated that living near to a hazardous waste site poses a danger of exposure to chemicals and the development of adverse health effects.”

The site also contains unexamined atomic bomb production wastes from the Manhattan Project. RRG believes that further expansion of the CWM site poses an unfair risk to those who live near this site.

CWM has a pollution permit from the NY Department of Environmental Conservation to discharge pollution to the Niagara River. Recent discharges resulted in large areas of foam as shown in the photograph. The Department of Environmental Conservation responded to the “foam” stating that “this is clearly violating permit conditions and we are considering whether or not to take action.” The impacts to the Niagara River from the discharge are not known. RRG is hopeful that the NY Department of Environmental Conservation will make the right choice to enforce permit requirements.

Although the NY Department of Environmental Conservation hasn’t acted strongly on the “foam” incident yet, RRG has definitely seen an improvement of better enforcement and more strict requirements for radiation testing and monitoring. Trucks entering the landfillmust pass by a school, but are prohibited from passing during hours when the students are in school. With the school board’s request to local law enforcement the “black out” time for waste trucks is being enforced, helping to protect the students in the area. These small victories show that public involvement makes a difference.

RRG is hopeful that we will be able to prevent the expansion. If enough people rally to the cause, we know we can win, stop the pollution of the Great Lakes and protect our environment. We believe that the CWM expansion is not just a local issue but of international concern to all of the Great Lakes.


You Can Help!


Publicity: Alert your community to the threats and send letters to let the NY Department of Environmental Conservation know that this is an international concern.

Alliances: With the help of the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network and Fund and the Sierra Club, we are getting the word out. We would welcome your help too.

Funds: Contributions will help us with communications and attorneys fees.

To lend a hand or for more information contact:
Charles Lamb, Residents for Responsible Government
P.O. Box 262 • Youngstown, NY 14174
716-745-7037 • www.rrg-wny.org



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