The news that the New York State Department of Conservation has been shipping hazardous PCBs from a cleanup site in Warren County to the Chemical Waste Management site in Porter without the knowledge of county and state elected officials is quite problematic. Both county and state officials have made the DEC well aware of their concerns with trucking the waste though the streets of Niagara County, and it was believed that the DEC was at least considering alternate options.
The reason that this is problematic is the secrecy that has surrounded this action by the DEC. This material is called hazardous for a reason. If you've ever driven the route that these trucks take to CWM, you know that they travel through residential neighborhoods, and literally right in front of Lew-Port High School. Now, we can all agree that the odds of an accident are pretty slim. But, they do happen. For DEC to allow these hazardous materials to be trucked through our streets without our first responders having the appropriate knowledge to prepare for an accident is unforgivable.
The county, which had been considering levying a $200 per ton tax on the materials, is now looking for a home rule message to apply the fee on what has been transported. To date, that would be about a $2 million bill that the DEC would need to pony up to the county.
The county needs to let it go. Is it wrong what the DEC has done? Absolutely. Does what they've done overshadow the fact that the state is facing a multi-billion dollar deficit? No, it doesn't. Everyone talks about doing their part to cut costs. The county hasn't experienced any additional costs due to the bringing in the materials, they simply wanted to levy the fee to make transporting the waste here cost prohibitive. Maybe it would have, maybe it wouldn't; we'll never know since they went ahead and did it anyway.
But with the state and financial markets facing massive uncertainty, it's time to do our part. By all means, make your feelings known to DEC, but $2 million just because you're pissed off is excessive.