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AUGUST 12 - AUGUST 20, 2014

Union Head Calls for Investigation Of Niagara County Landfill Safety

August 12, 2014

This photo of leachate spilling, leaked to the Reporter, helped spark a DEC investigation.

AFSCME President Bill Rutland, head of Niagara County's blue collar union, has called on the state Department of Environmental Conservation to investigate operations at the county landfill in Lockport.

The move comes after he was issued four written warnings and a stern letter of discipline by Niagara County Attorney Claude Joerg and County Manager Jeff Glatz following an investigation into his role in the discovery of a leachate leak at the landfill on Rt. 93 in Lockport.

"The millions of pounds of municipal and Industrial waste located at that landfill require that the systems Niagara County has invested millions of dollars to contain that waste are properly maintained," Rutland said.

Rutland has retained an attorney in fighting disciplinary charges, and is seeking whistleblower protection.

He is now filing counter charges claiming the county is lying about the severity of the problem.

Niagara County Refuse Disposal District Director Dawn Timm was issued a notice of violation by the DEC following an earlier article exposing the situation that appeared in the Niagara Falls Reporter.

The DEC made an unannounced inspection at the landfill on May 19.

While Timm maintains the problem has been fixed, Rutland says it is worse than anyone imagines.

Leachate is essentially rainwater and melted snow that percolates down through the household, industrial and commercial waste that has been dumped at the landfill over the decades. It is rich in mold and bacteria.

The physical appearance of leachate when it emerges from a typical landfill site is a smelly black, yellow or orange colored cloudy liquid. The smell is acidic, offensive and may be pervasive because of hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur rich organic. It is highly toxic.

If the problem is as bad as Rutland says, the danger to the area's groundwater, streams and springs is high.

Rutland, whose union men work at the landfill, told DEC officials that Timm doesn't know enough about the facility's operations to be qualified to be in charge of running it.

He called for a full investigation by the state and seems likely to get it. But that may be cold comfort to area residents whose wells and drinking water could become contaminated in the meantime.





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Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
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