IWS GETS A GREEN LIGHT FOR A
DUMP IN FARMERSVILLE
September 23, 2003
On September 15, 2003, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) notified Integrated Waste Systems (IWS) that the company’s application for permission to build a ten-million-ton landfill in Farmersville is complete. Accordingly, the DEC said a public notice will be published in about one month, to schedule an initial public meeting. This begins the public’s review of the landfill proposal.
The process of reviewing a landfill proposal under the DEC’s rules is long and complicated. The outline below is provided to orient you within this process and help you make the most of your opportunities to participate. It also shows you where we’ve been and what’s down the road.
We urge all concerned citizens to watch for the public notice promised by the DEC, and mark the date for the public meeting provided in the notice. That will be your first opportunity to tell an administrative judge deciding whether IWS gets a permit what you think and know about this proposal.
WHERE WE’VE BEEN AND WHAT’S DOWN THE ROAD
A fuller discussion of the review process is available on our website, at:
April 2, 1991: IWS applies to the DEC for “conceptual” approval of its dump proposal.
September, 1994: Hearings in the Franklinville Fire Hall are held on the IWS application.
May 15, 1996: The DEC Commissioner
grants “conceptual” approval, ruling that groundwater pollution and
slope failure risks are not too high to prohibit a landfill in
March 24, 1999: A public "scoping" meeting is held in the Franklinville Fire Hall by the DEC. Scoping is a process that invites public comments in order to determine the scope of issues that must be included in a complete permit application. Following scoping, the DEC directs IWS as to what regulations and concerns its permit application must address. At the scoping meeting then-Supervisot for the Town of Farmersville Jerry Siewert said about the dump proposal, "We don't want it up here."
July 18, 1999: IWS applies to the DEC for a permit to construct and operate a 10-million ton landfill in Farmersville.
September 15, 2003: The DEC notifies IWS that its application is complete, and hearings will be scheduled in a month.
THE ROLES OF FARMERSVILLE, THE COUNTY AND THE STATE
Landfills in New York require both a local permit from the town hosting the landfill and a state permit from the DEC. The DEC is obligated to issue a permit if the application meets all the requirements. However, a town may adopt stricter standards, and deny a local permit. The Town of Farmersville feels bound by a 1991 contract with IWS that provides if IWS gets a state permit, it will automatically also get a local permit.
The County has a stringent
landfill law that IWS probably can’t comply with. However, in New York
when a town has a solid waste law, county laws don’t apply. Because the
Town of Farmersville has not repealed its local law, right now the
county’s law does not apply to IWS.
Current Town of Farmersville Supervisor Fritz Zuech has said the local landfill law cannot be changed because town's hands are tied by the contract signed by the 1991 Town Board.
TO PARTICIPATE FULLY IN THE UPCOMING HEARINGS, YOU MUST APPLY TO BECOME A PARTY
The DEC is drafting a permit
for the Farmersville dump. Once a draft permit is ready, an initial
public hearing will be scheduled to invite comments on the draft permit
and IWS's full permit application.
Although anyone can (and should) speak at the initial public hearing, only those proposing an issue that could stop the dump or add special conditions to its permit may participate in subsequent hearings. We expect an Issues Conference andAdjudicatory Hearings will also be scheduled, in response to parties who propose issues. Only an application for party status allows a person or group to propose an issue and participate in the second level of hearings.
We expect the same division among parties as occurred in 1994, when hearings were held on Conceptual Review: CCCC, the County/City, and the Town will be parties in opposition to the landfill proposal, and the DEC Staff and IWS will be proponents of a landfill permit.
Whether the Farmersville site is suitable for a landfill of the size and type proposed by IWS may not be considered in the upcoming hearing. That issue was decided in IWS’s favor in 1996, after the 1994 hearings on Conceptual Review. The earlier hearings considered whether the concept of a 3,000 ton-per-day landfill on a hillside with a 30 percent slope was viable.
The engineering specifications required for such a landfill, and certain “mitigations” or trade-offs for the predictable negative impacts of the project will now be decided. Any changed circumstances will have to be considered, such as the existence of new drinking water facilities or new laws that didn’t apply in 1996 but do now.
CCCC will apply for Party Status, as will Cattaraugus County and the City of Olean (jointly) and the Town of Farmersville. The DEC Staff will be a Party, as will IWS. We need your financial, spiritual and personal support as participants in public meetings, to help us mount the kind of opposition that should be taken seriously by the judge deciding whether IWS gets a permit.
HOW TO FIND OUT MORE
Much of IWS’s permit application is in the Olean Public Library (372-0200 for hours). Soon all the revisions IWS was asked to make by the DEC–several volumes–will be added to the library’s collection. The Town of Farmersville (676-3030) and the DEC office in Allegany (372-0645) will have the same materials. You can find answers to frequently asked questions in layman’s language, and the latest news, on our website.
Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, Inc.