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Council comments on Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Plan

November 13, 2008

John Iannotti
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Solid and Hazardous Materials
625 Broadway
Albany, New York 12233-7250

Re: Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Plan

Dear Mr. Iannotti:

The Business Council represents more than 3,000 private sector employers across New York. Our membership includes some businesses that are directly impacted by the Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Plan. The siting plan addresses many of the challenges of hazardous waste disposal in this state. While we largely support the proposed policy, there are a few areas of concern.

First, the plan does not fully address high demands on New York’s in-state facilities by brownfield clean-ups and other waste generation throughout the northeast region and the immediate need for expanded capacity. This will become apparent soon as we see more brownfield remediation and redevelopment projects move forward as a result of the Brownfield Cleanup program changes enacted this year. With increased remediation comes a greater need for disposal. If in-state capacity is depleted, New York may be forced to ship brownfield cleanups and other waste long distances, at greater cost and a potentially higher environmental impact. Until the siting plan is adopted, no new hazardous waste management facilities can be built, nor can any existing facilities be expanded.

With the only hazardous waste landfill in the Northeast close to reaching its capacity in the next few years, New York State will have to either export materials out of state, at a significant cost increase for transportation, or allow for new landfill capacity by accelerating the permit process. Rather than spending extra money to move material out of state, it would be more economical to accelerate the permitting of new landfills now so that in two to three years we will have new landfills and increased capacity just as the need will be most urgent.

Secondly, the plan does not stand by compliance with the 20-year disposal capacity requirement stated in section 27-1102 of the Environmental Conservation Law. This section requires the state to maintain 20 years of in-state hazardous waste disposal capacity or reach a written accommodation with other states on material disposal. This plan seems to accept another approach which relies on available national capacity, lessening the need to expand and build additional state facilities. This plan needs to address state disposal capacity requirements already stated in law.

The draft plan does not appear to consider the total environmental impact of transporting large volumes of hazardous waste from New York to facilities located in the Midwest or regions even further away. The total carbon footprint of shipping waste out of state is much greater than handling it within the state’s borders.

The Department of Environmental Conservation should focus on ensuring adequate treatment, storage and disposal options within New York State, to provide business, industry and municipalities with more affordable options for handling brownfield clean-ups and other hazardous waste particularly with private and public sector budgets under extreme pressure.

The Department needs to assess the critical shortfall in in-state hazardous waste disposal capacity, which could be depleted within a few years absent timely action to approve the siting plan and develop new facilities.

For these reasons the Business Council recommends that this draft proposal be amended to reflect these concerns raised by the business and hazardous waste management industry.

Please feel free to contact us if we can provide you with any additional information on the issues discussed in this submission.

Sincerely,
Marcus Ferguson