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Great Lakes Article:

Bill would bar Hudson sediment dumping in Niagara County

By Joel Stashenko
Associated Press
04/24/2002

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) It is unclear where PCB-laden sediments dredged from the Hudson River will end up, but legislators from one western New York county say they know where they don't want them.

A bill has been introduced in the state Legislature prohibiting the storage or disposal of contaminated Hudson silt in Niagara County.

Sponsors say their bill is aimed at prohibiting the Chemical Waste Management disposal facility in the Town of Porter, about 15 miles north of Niagara Falls, from becoming the repository for Hudson wastes.

''It's a matter of environmental justice,'' said the Senate sponsor of the bill, Niagara County Republican George Maziarz. ''Niagara County has been the recipient of hazardous waste throughout the state for too long. We don't want it.''

The bill also has a majority-party sponsor in the state Assembly, Niagara County Democrat Francine DelMonte. She noted that Chemical Waste Management (CWM), as the only certified hazardous chemical waste disposal site in the state, is the logical place for the sediments to be housed.

''We take all the hazardous waste garbage,'' she said. ''Just think about whether they have to rail or truck that sediment completely across the state and of the potential there for, God forbid, accidents or accidental spills.''

CWM was recently granted a variance to use more of its property in Porter for disposal. DelMonte said the enormity of the Hudson River project would put it in another class from the wastes usually handed at the facility.

''If it was to come to pass in the way we are surmising it would, you are talking 10 years, practically seven days a week and I think 10 hours a day,'' she said.

Under the federal Environmental Protection Agency's blueprint for the cleanup, 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be dredged from the Hudson River north of Albany. That volume of sediments is enough to fill about 40 football fields 30 feet deep and federal officials say the silt will contain about 150,000 pounds of PCBs.

The federal agency has yet to say how or where sediments from the Hudson will be disposed of, spokesman David Kluesner said Wednesday. But the plan specifies that the wastes taken from the Hudson cannot be stored or disposed of within the Hudson Valley.

Gov. George Pataki, who supports the dredging project, insisted that the contaminated silt should not be left in the Hudson Valley.

A CWM spokesman said it is ''purely speculative'' where the Hudson wastes will end up. Scott Matter said his company opposes the Maziarz-DelMonte bill.

''On principle, Waste Management opposes any legislative effort to limit permits on an event-by-event basis,'' Matter said.

Chemical wastes are typically ''treated'' by CWM to neutralize the toxic materials and then buried at the Niagara County site, Matter said. No chemical wastes are incinerated at the facility.

Maziarz said there are licensed waste disposal facilities in Texas and Wisconsin which could handle the Hudson sediments. Better yet, the sediments should be kept in the Hudson Valley, he said, though he acknowledged that cannot happen under the EPA's plan.

Maziarz noted that in the case of the nation's most infamous instance of chemical contamination at the Love Canal neighborhood in Niagara Falls tainted sediments were buried and capped in an onsite landfill.

''What's good for Love Canal is good for the Hudson Valley,'' he said.

Town of Porter Supervisor Merton Wiepert said that in addition to the Love Canal and CWM, his area is also home to a large solid waste facility and to radioactive wastes from the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bombs.

''Enough is enough,'' Wiepert said.

More than 1 million pounds of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were discharged into the Hudson until 1977 when they were banned by the federal government. They have been linked to cancer in laboratory animals and neurological problems in humans.

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