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AUGUST 05 - AUGUST 13, 2014

Union Prez. Condemns County Leg. Closure of Landfill Reveals Surprise DEC Penalties Imposed on County!

By Bill Rutland

President of AFSCME Local 182 Niagara County

Blue Collar Workers

August 05, 2014

Dawn Timm oversees the closure of C&D landfill
On his day off, Union President Bill Rutland avails himself of waste disposal at C&D prior to its closure.

Ever since Niagara County legislators forced the resignation of Refuse District Director Richard Pope and closed the C&D landfill on Rt. 93 in Lockport more than a year ago (July, 2013), the conditions at the landfill have steadily deteriorated.

As proof of this, as reported exclusively in the Niagara Falls Reporter, a Notice of Violation by the NYS DEC was issued to Pope's replacement, Environmental Coordinator Dawn Timm on June 20.

The penalties followed an inspection by the DEC (May 19) and a story in the Reporter (May 27) where pictures of leaking water percolating through solid landfill and leaching out its constituents (called leachate water) appeared for the first time.

It is a serious matter since hazardous material absorbed by water coming out of landfills leach into groundwater.

The violations the DEC charged Niagara County were:

1. Failure to report an emergency event within 24 hours. Unreported Leachate spill was discovered by DEC inspectors on May 19.

2. Allowing leachate water to migrate and enter ground water. 3. Improper maintenance of the temporary cover on the C&D landfill installed under Timm, after C&D operations shut down.

4. Failure to monitor leachate accumulation in C&D wells to prevent overfilling.

Each violation subjects Niagara County to $7,500 penalties per day and an additional $1,500 for every day violations continue.

Meantime, reports dating back to January, 2013, reveal that DEC inspectors gave Timm ample notice of these conditions needing attention. The pipe in which Leachate had been leaking in Landfill #1 was mentioned in six DEC reports from December 2012 to January 2013. The condition of the C&D temporary cover had been noticed three times between September 2013 and March 2013. Failure to inspect manholes was reported in January 2013.

Timm is well versed in the environmental industry, and its requirements.

Why did she put Niagara County at risk of DEC penalties?

(Above) Leachate containing potentially hazardous waste leaks out of landfill #1.

The 2014 Budget for the Refuse District allows her only part-time labor from the Dept of Public Works. In an agreement that occurred simultaneously with the closing of the landfill, our union, AFSCME, and Niagara County agreed that our union workforce that maintained the closing landfill was to be transferred into positions at DPW.

The Refuse Budget for 2014 allows Timm to borrow only limited labor resources from DPW. She may use a truck driver to pump leachate into a tanker and transport it to a wastewater treatment facility on 80 days per year to prevent hazard laden wells from overflowing.

The problem is that in prior years, when the union maintained the landfill, the truck driver hauled leachate away 260 days per year How is she supposed to prevent overflowing with only one third of leachate hauling?

Among other tasks needed to comply with DEC regulations is the plowing of roads to permit access to the landfill in winter, and mowing grass in summer.

To complete this task, Timm was given access to a groundskeeper from DPW for only three days per year. If you have any idea how big the landfill is, you will know that it is an impossible task and to expect more DEC fines. When the Niagara County Legislature voted to close the C&D Landfill in June 2013, they told voters that former director Pope had inaccurately budgeted maintenance costs. This was why, in their opinion, C&D operations were losing money.

By no longer accepting construction and debris materials from local businesses and homeowners who paid a tipping fee, this, they said, would, after cutting the union jobs needed to maintain the landfill, save taxpayers money.

Their budget for 2013 did save residents a small amount of money.

I know, because I, as a resident of the Town of Lockport, saw a drop of $1.28 off my bill. By dropping $1.28, I, along with many others, lost a low cost service -the ability to dump construction and debris at a landfill at a low cost.

Meantime, in order to brag to voters that they reduced the size of county government by closing the landfill, Legislator Rick Updegrove and his majority caucus are putting the county at risk of DEC violations.

And in case you forgot, DEC rules that were violated do put the environment at risk. Landfill #1 (where the Leachate leaked from) contains 245 million pounds of sludge from Harrison Radiator. This includes compounds such as: Cyanide, Lead, Arsenic, Benzene etc.

Not exactly what you want leaching into your drinking water.





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©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
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