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Another unique hazardous waste site

A unique hazardous waste site in New York state recently failed a test for cancer-causing emissions.

But this one's not in Niagara County.

Norlite, the state's only commercial hazardous waste incinerator, exceeded the amount of dioxin it emitted during a self test last fall, according to the Albany Times-Union.

The facility is located in the City of Cohoes, in Albany County.

CWM Chemical Services, located on Balmer Road in the Town of Porter, hosts the only commercial hazardous waste landfill in New York.

--Aaron Besecker



EPA pollution data available on web

CWM Chemical Services, the commercial hazardous waste landfill in Lewiston and Porter in northwest Niagara County, was the seventh biggest polluter in the state in 2009, according to EPA data. (Charles Lewis / Buffalo News file photo)

I reported today that Western New York has seven of the top 25 polluters in New York state.

Data about environmental discharges was sent to the Environmental Protection Agency by the facilities, and was amassed as part of the annual Toxics Release Inventory.

On the agency's website, anyone can look through the data -- including every facility and type of waste they release -- with the TRI Explorer.

Here's the data from all the facilities in Erie County and what they released; here's the data for Niagara County facilities.

--Aaron Besecker

Advisory board-sponsored talk on radiological contamination at NU

A Washington State University professor who has studied radiological contamination will speak tonight at Niagara University in a session sponsored by the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works Restoration Advisory Board.

Read more at the Buffalo News Live blog.

Lewiston-Porter reverses itself on CWM donation

The Lewiston-Porter School Board has reversed itself and is no longer willing to accept a potential donation from CWM Chemical Services.

The board on Tuesday night voted to rescind a measure it passed May 25, a measure which would have made the district eligible to receive a donation from a charity golf tournament to be held by CWM's parent company at the Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston later this year.

Some believed the May 25 resolution may have been used by CWM -- which operates a hazardous waste landfill facility which sits in the towns of Lewiston and Porter -- to gain favor from the state in its attempts to obtain an expansion permit.

The school board voted last year to oppose the expansion proposal.

Board members Robert J. Weller and Edward B. Waller voted against rescinding the measure on Tuesday, while President Keith M. Fox, and members Michael J. Gentile, April D. Fideli and Wendy Swearingen voted to overturn the board's previous decision.

Fox and Gentile voted last month to make the district eligible for the donation from CWM.

--Aaron Besecker

Panel allows sidewalk spending from parks fund

WHEATFIELD -- The Town of Lewiston will be able to spend more than $800,000 from a parks and recreation fund on three projects, including 5,700 linear feet of new sidewalks, thanks to a vote this afternoon from a panel of eight governmental bodies.

The Host Community Standing Committee, without a single dissenting vote cast, agreed to allow the town to fund the projects, during a meeting in the Niagara County Center for Economic Development on Inducon Drive.

Aside from the sidewalk project in Sanborn, Lewiston officials received approval for improvements at Kiwanis Park on Oxbow Lane, and a 5,000-square-foot expansion for the Sanborn Area Historical Society.

The three projects were endorsed by the Niagara River Greenway Commission on May 18.

The standing committee consists of the New York Power Authority, Niagara County, the City of Niagara Falls, the towns of Niagara and Lewiston, and the school districts of Niagara Falls, Lewiston-Porter and Niagara-Wheatfield.

The standing committee controls $3 million in annual funding as part of the members' Greenway fund for parks and recreation projects. Lewiston's share of the fund is $510,000 per year.

The funding comes through a settlement with the Power Authority for the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project. That settlement provides for $9 million in annual funding for Greenway projects, money which is controlled by four standing committees.

Aside from the Power Authority, the seven members of the Host Community Standing Committee, which had been known as the Niagara Power Coalition, also share a $5 million fund for capital projects.

Lewiston's annual share of that fund is $850,000.

8:59 a.m. Thursday: Here's the version of this story that appeared in today's edition.

2:43 p.m. Wednesday: When asked why the town did not seek to pay for the sidewalks with money from the capital fund, Lewiston Supervisor Steven L. Reiter said he believes the project fits criteria established for Greenway projects.

The town has other projects, like water and sewer line work, for which the capital projects fund can be used.

"We were just trying to judiciously use our funds in the most productive way to support the town," Reiter said.

The sidewalks are to be installed on Saunders Settlement Road and Buffalo Street, according to the town's application.

2:13 p.m. Wednesday: A fourth proposal from the town, to create a dog park on Lewiston Pleateau, was tabled after procedural concerns were raised. Some standing committee members said they thought the panel should wait to vote until 90 days had passed from the time the town submitted its application to the Greenway Commission.

In recent Greenway matters, the state parks agency and the Power Authority last week voted to spend $1.1 million in Niagara River Greenway funds on a pair of new comfort stations in two state parks in Niagara County.

Here's a blog post on the Greenway Commission's May 18 endorsements, which include the Lewiston proposals and links to each application document.

Here's the Power Authority's Web site for relicensing issues.

--Aaron Besecker

Former Lew-Port board member out of legal options

Stepien scott mug A former Lewiston-Porter School Board member has run out of options in his legal battle that stemmed from being removed from the board three years ago.

A federal judge today dismissed an appeal from Scott A. Stepien, who claimed his constitutional rights were violated when he was was taken off the board for failing to complete a financial oversight course.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara tossed out the suit in an order issued after Scott A. Stepien failed to appear for arguments on Monday.

Stepien was appealing a decision issued in February by Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott, who ruled Stepien had failed to prove other board members and attorneys were acting outside their official roles when they removed him. Stepien was later reinstated to his board seat by the state Education Department.

Stepien objected to Scott's ruling in a March 22 letter to Arcara.

--Aaron Besecker

CWM's sister site rejects radioactive waste

One of CWM's sister facilities in California has said no to accepting radioactive waste, the Associated Press reports.

The company operates a hazardous waste landfill in the Town of Porter in northwest Niagara County. The facility here is the only commercial landfill of its kind in the Northeast.

More of the same expected at CWM

Despite more than $900,000 in fines levied against CWM since 1990, the company's proposal to renew its operating permit is expected to gain approval from state regulators later this year with little to no problems. Here's today's story.

There's a public meeting on the issue Thursday night in Porter Town Hall. It starts at 6 p.m., and will be hosted by CWM representatives.

This issue is separate from the company's proposal to add 30 years of new capacity to the site.

If you'd like to read deeper into the issue, here's the state Department of Environmental Conservation's page on CWM.

Click here to read about the company's existing permit at an agency page with links to the existing permit itself.

Our most recent stories involving CWM include the Town of Lewiston barring industrial waste from its sewer system, a loophole seen in a proposed state plan that could allow the company to expand, as well as public disapproval of the latest draft of a state hazardous waste plan -- on two consecutive nights.

2010.01.10 cwm blog 12982501H3798565 

In this January 2008 photo by News Photographer Derek Gee, CWM Chemical Services environmental monitoring manager Greg Zayatz, left, and environmental monitor Joe Stredny collect a sample of water for testing as it is discharged from the commercial hazardous waste landfill facility in the Town of Porter. As part of its state permit, the facility collects storm water in a pond and tests it for contaminants before and during its release to the Niagara River.

--Aaron Besecker

Talking ethics at Lew-Port

We published a story today on a proposed code of ethics for school board members at Lewiston-Porter.

Take a look at a draft of the guidelines here.

--Aaron Besecker

Radio call impacts Lew-Port contract talks

Lewiston-Porter School Superintendent R. Christopher Roser told the School Board on Monday night that a former board member's phone call into a local radio talk show on Sunday morning has affected ongoing contract negotiations with the district's teachers union.

Edward M. Lilly, who lost a re-election bid in May, called WBEN-930 AM during its "Hardline" show and spoke with Gov. David A. Paterson, who was a guest.

Listen to the audio from the show here (Lilly's call is taken at about the 32:35 mark).

Lilly made allegations against the district and the union, claiming the union had a "slush fund," inferring the union could spend the money as it wanted. Roser said the account is a health insurance reserve account controlled by the union, and it is a "misnomer" to call it a slush fund.

Rather, Roser said, "it's the money that's left over from prudent management of money."

The superintendent also described the phone call as "a setback" and "a disappointment."

--Aaron Besecker

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