By Michael Mahar
I read the recent in-depth articles on waste sites and the editorial from the April 23 Buffalo News. I’d like to offer some insight and a very different perspective.
First and foremost, the editorial says, “While the landfill has apparently operated safely …” Thank you. We take pride in our safety record and our dedication to environmental compliance. It is, indeed, operated safely.
Since Waste Management has taken over the site, it has spent $60 million in remediation resulting from historical contamination issues and has invested more than $40 million in improved technology and environmental protection.
Spending $100 million in cleaning and updating the facility was part of our commitment to the community. We also positively impact the Niagara County economy by close to $12 million a year, according to an independent report by the Bonadio Co.
As a taxpayer in Niagara County myself, I do not relish the loss of any more revenue to our tax base. We simply can’t afford it.
Aside from being the largest school taxpayer to the Lewiston-Porter School District, many of this site’s employees are graduates of Lew-Port and their children now attend the school. Please don’t forget that the 66 employees live in this area, travel the same roads, attend church and shop at the same places as everyone else in this community. We are dedicated to safeguarding our environment.
One factor that led this site in the Town of Porter to become a hazardous waste facility in the 1970s was the geology of this region. The natural deposit of thick impermeable clay at the site makes it a very appropriate location for a facility like this. Outside of the double-liner system, the clay itself, if needed, would act as additional protection.
Another reason for the location in Niagara County is its close proximity to industrial chemical sites in Niagara Falls. In fact, Niagara County is one of the top three counties (along with Erie and St. Lawrence) where we have taken the most waste since the mid-1990s.
The third factor in the site’s location is its position on the historically contaminated Lake Ontario Ordinance Works, where work on the Manhattan Project and a TNT plant were in place for World War II. As a result of these uses, this land does not have an acceptable use for residential housing or anything other than for industrial purposes.
The News’ three-part story gave a compelling reason why a facility like ours needs to be sited in Western New York. Brownfield and remediation cleanup efforts will be vital to rejuvenating this area.
We are here to make sure the disposal of the waste is handled in a safe, professional manner and to safeguard the community that we all share.
Michael Mahar is a district manager for Waste Management.