Letter to the Editor: No need to dump PCB waste near Great Lakes
By Amy Witryol
Published December 13, 2006
The state Legislature passed a bill prohibiting new hazardous waste landfills with the potential to discharge into the Great Lakes system. Despite endorsements from newspapers and broad-based groups statewide, Governor Pataki vetoed this bill, A.11713, in August.
Waste Management Inc. is the largest operator of hazardous waste and other landfills in New York and the U.S., and one of the largest contributors to U.S. presidential campaigns.
State and federal Great Lakes agreements seek to eliminate the discharge of persistent toxic chemicals such as PCBs, while the agencies acknowledge all landfills may eventually leak, so extreme caution is warranted when considering new toxic landfills in the Great Lakes system.
And there is no greater good. New York doesn't require more toxic waste landfill capacity according to state reports and the EPA. Thanks largely to technology, toxic waste volumes have been declining. At last report, less than 1 percent of all nonaqueous waste produced by New York business was landfilled at the state's one remaining commercial hazardous waste landfill.
Most states no longer host such landfills that accept PCBs. There is no reason to encourage more massive imports of PCB-contaminated waste and other toxics from across the U.S. for burial in New York's Great Lakes system. National capacity is more than ample.
Clean water availability is an increasing state, national and world problem. New York needs this hazardous waste law to specifically address Great Lakes risk. And we need it now because efforts by the Pataki administration to facilitate an application for 28 years of more hazrardous waste landfill capacity (based on current volume) are far along, and continue at a brisk pace in the waning days of this administration.
The state Legislature should override the veto of A.11713 when it reconvenes today, because there may not be a strong bite at this apple for another 28 years.