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OCT 07- OCT 14, 2014

Covanta Expansion a Done Deal? Magic Eight Ball Says YES!

By Frank Parlato

October 07, 2014

Niagara Falls. What other city in America would lobby and fight so hard for the privilege of accepting hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage from other areas, states and even countries, and to allow it to be incinerated, the smoke having an uncertain effect on local residents?
Thanks to Mayor Dyster’s strong support, the Covanta expansion project is all but a done deal and 500,000 tons of garbage from New York City will start coming by train to Niagara Falls.


Late last week, under pressure from several sources, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) agreed to extend the public comment period for the proposed rail expansion project at the Covanta Niagara garbage burning facility in Niagara Falls for 30 days.

DEC spokesman Peter Constantakes said the new deadline for submitting comments is Nov. 10.

Covanta Niagara applied for a DEC permit modification as part of a $30 million expansion proposal to convert a 15-acre unused rail yard adjacent to the facility’s property into an active rail yard for bringing out of town garbage - mostly from New York City - to their incinerator.

The DEC quietly outlined procedures for public comment on Covanta’s expansion plan in an Environmental Notice Bulletin on Sept. 24 and in a small classified ad in the Niagara Gazette on Sept. 25.

The original deadline to submit comments was Oct. 10, just 15 days after it was advertised.

Last week environmental activists like Amy Hope Witryol brought attention to the matter.

“DEC ought to respond officially as to why they think it’s appropriate to give the community 15 days notice to start shipping New York City garbage to Niagara Falls for 30 years,” Witryol was quoted in an article in the Niagara Gazette.

Witryol also questioned several aspects of the Covanta proposal and raised concerns about its potential impact on the surrounding community, including air pollution.

As for the 15 days, Witryol had a point.

Why would the DEC limit the comment period to just two weeks, not hold any public hearings and neglect to even issue a press release?

It would only make sense if the Covanta expansion was already a done deal.

While Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster also joined the call for an extended deadline for public comment, he said he supports Covanta's expansion and believes it would be “an environmental benefit” to the community.

The trainloads of out-of-town garbage, which will amount to as much as 500,000 tons a year, would replace an equal amount of truckloads currently hauling out-of-town garbage going to the Niagara Falls incinerator, Dyster said.

According to the DEC’s website, the Covanta expansion will not change the current amounts of garbage Covanta takes in from other cities, but will “more efficiently deliver" the same amount using trains instead of trucks.

The DEC presently permits Covanta to burn 821,000 tons of garbage per year.

The people of New York City are far too smart to burn garbage in their own neighborhoods. Instead they ship it to where the people are none to bright and don’t mind breathing in mercury, dioxin and other poisons. Unlike Niagara Falls parents, NYC parents love their children too much to allow garbage to be burnt where their children live. So NYC sends its garbage to Niagara Falls to be burned.

It is expected that, after the railroad expansion is approved, that about 321,000 tons of garbage will still come by truck.

Currently, about 300 garbage trucks go to the site daily creating a heavy, near endless flow of truck traffic. The rail expansion would decrease daily trucks to about 120, as New York City garbage will now come by railroad to Niagara Falls on new tracks Covanta will install.

About 60 percent of Covanta Niagara's present garbage intake is coming from Canada.

Dubbed a clean energy company, Covanta Niagara has been burning out-of-town garbage and emitting pollution into the air of Niagara Falls since 1980.

Covanta Niagara uses their burning process to convert heat into steam and electricity which they sell to businesses or the regional electrical grid at a profit.

This heat-to-energy process allows them to use the euphemistic "energy company" label, despite the company being an air polluting, garbage burning company. And garbage, not energy, is their main business.

According to stockholders' reports, the bulk of Covanta's revenue (about 70 percent) comes from "tipping" fees for accepting garbage and about 25 percent comes from the sale of electricity and steam produced from burning that garbage. About five percent comes from scrapping metals and selling ash collected at the bottom of the burn pit.

The burning however releases poisons into the air -- mercury, arsenic, benzene, dioxin and carbon monoxide.

Now that Covanta can more efficiently take in more garbage by rail, the DEC has not ruled out an increase in their tonnage permit in the future.

Whether 15 or 30 days or 30 minutes is allowed for public comment, the Niagara Falls Reporter suspects Covanta will be approved by the DEC to expand to new rails to bring in garbage from NYC. The DEC has a strong need to get NYC?garbage burned wherever it can.

The storage of garbage waiting to be burned by Covanta at its LaSalle plant on 56 St. has drawn thousands of rats to the quiet, modest residential neighborhood and resulted in an uproar by neighbors.

In another year or two, we predict, Covanta will apply for a permit to expand the amount of garbage they can burn. A small ad will appear in the Gazette and the public will be permitted to comment for 15 or 30 days - and that, too, will be approved.

As Mayor Dyster limits the amount of garbage city residents can throw out to one 64-gallon tote per week, he is supporting the right of big business to take in out-of-town garbage.

As partial proof that the $30 million expansion project is just the beginning of taking in more out-of-town garbage, Covanta erected a new 190-foot smokestack and installed a new natural gas boiler.

The company employs 86 people and their expansion, the company says, will add 23 jobs. Let's face it. Covanta Niagara did not make a $30 million investment for the sake of taking in the same amount of garbage.

The idea that they would add 23 jobs to their payroll costs to burn the same amount of garbage just doesn't add up.

Some people would say it is insane to support an expansion of out of town garbage incineration adjacent to residential neighborhoods. And of course it is everywhere else- except Niagara Falls.


Biomass incineration releases the same types of pollutants as coal burning, including carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), particulate matter (PM), ...






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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
Senior Editor: Tony Farina