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Keep hazardous waste out of the Great Lakes

Thanks to The Buffalo News for its recent series about Western New York’s version of the “elephant in the room,” our legacy of toxic waste.

Of particular concern is the CWM facility, which has permitted outfalls into the Niagara River and tributaries to Lake Ontario, both sources of drinking water for millions of Americans and Canadians. Concerns about the safety and management of the entire Lake Ontario Ordinance Works site, upon which the CWM facility is co-located, are not without merit.

In 2008, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued CWM a $175,000 fine for violations that include discharge permit violations; stormwater management violations; leachate exceedances; leaking and improperly labeled drums; and failure to comply with waste transporter conditions. In addition, as part of its permit renewal application, the DEC is requiring CWM to implement protective measures for two newly discovered areas of groundwater contamination, and remediation of radiological contamination in the facultative ponds.

Finally, the site is not a “Ziploc bag that is welded shut,” as quoted from the CWM-hired environmental monitor. All upland landfills leak eventually, as evidenced by the billions of dollars being spent in public funds throughout the country at similar sites. This contractor is not a “member” of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, as was reported, and any comments or perspectives should not be attributed to the Riverkeeper organization.

All data, reports and permits for CWM and other hazardous waste sites in Western New York are publicly available from the agencies, and Riverkeeper public comments are available on our website, www.bnriverkeeper.org.

Jill Jedlicka

Executive Director

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper