Environment Committee Alert
October 13, 2009

DEC Submits Revised Draft Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Plan and Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Public Review; Hearings to Follow

Revised Draft Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Plan and Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement

Revised versions of the New York State Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Plan and Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) that were proposed in 2008 are now available for public review. The revisions stem from the first of two required rounds of public comment opportunities and hearings on the draft GEIS and Siting Plan.

The Siting Plan is intended to guide state agencies, authorities and other entities, to make decisions regarding the management and disposal of hazardous waste, so as to avoid potentially adverse impacts to air, land, water or public health. The GEIS evaluates and addresses any potential impacts the draft plan may have on the environment. However, it does not replace the need for a separate and distinct site-specific EIS for any hazardous waste management facility that is proposed to be sited or expanded in New York State in the future.

Both the Draft GEIS and Siting Plan are available on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) Web site. The revised drafts incorporate the input received during the previous hearings and comment period and are subject to a second and final opportunity for public comment before finalization. Changes from the 2008 draft focus on incorporating the most recent data. The plan also includes a new Chapter 9, which acknowledges that there is not currently a need based on capacity for any new hazardous waste management facilities, but provides specific guidance for state agencies, authorities and facility siting boards in determining if a proposed facility is otherwise necessary or in the public interest. Also, in Chapter 2, the plan emphasizes the importance of reducing the amount of toxic materials produced and used in New York State, thereby decreasing the need for hazardous waste disposal. In response to public comments, the adoption of legislation that results in a regulatory approach to encourage and coordinate toxic use reduction is now one added option to help decrease the use of chemicals that contribute to hazardous waste.

Hearings on the most recent updated draft are being held in each of NYS DEC's nine regions. The hearing locations are reasonably accessible to the mobility-impaired. Interpreter services can be made available to the hearing-impaired at no charge, upon request to the Department within a reasonable time period prior to the hearings.

All persons, organizations, corporations, government agencies, and others wishing to comment on the proposed Siting Plan are invited to attend the hearings and to submit either written or oral statements. Reasonable time limits may be set for each speaker to afford everyone an opportunity to be heard. Lengthy statements should be submitted in writing and summarized for oral presentation. Written statements received prior to the close of the public comment period and oral statements made at each hearing session will be given equal weight.