Feb 17, 2010 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Last week’s public meeting was supposed to provide residents with answers and reassurance that the plan to turn Wastebed 13 into a sediment consolidation area would be safe for the community.
But Camillus neighbors were left disappointed and frustrated.
The town of Camillus hosted a panel of NYSDEC, Department of Health and USEPA experts Feb. 11 to answer questions and address mounting concern for the health and safety of residents living in the neighborhood of Wastebed 13, a former Allied Chemical waste site on Airport Road.
Camillus town engineer Paul Czwerwinski first outlined some of the town’s concerns, and presented an alternative — using the sediment as fill for the Salina landfill, which needs fill in order to be closed. DEC Region 7 Director Ken Lynch then gave a presentation to address some of the most commonly asked questions in the last few weeks.
But outraged residents did not want to hear from the panel, they wanted answers from Honeywell, whose representatives they said had come into their homes and promised to pursue another option if they were presented with one.
Not long into the question-answer segment, Honeywell’s Syracuse Program Director John McAuliffe left his seat in the audience to answer Jamie Abdo, who asked directly what the alternative plan was.
McAuliffe replied that no other viable option was being explored.
“So, you lied,” Abdo replied, her sentiments echoed loudly by many in the crowd.
Though tension ran high among the group of about 200 residents, what could have easily deteriorated into a shouting match was ultimately unproductive for a different reason: the answers just weren’t there.
A week earlier, roughly 100 Camillus residents attended the monthly meeting of the Community Partnership Working Group, set up by the DEC to field questions and concerns from the public. Residents posed their questions to the DEC and Honeywell, most touching on health safety concerns for the community, and were told the questions would be answered at the Feb. 11 meeting.
But that meeting has come and gone, and the lack of suitable answers has left residents pursuing legal action to block the plan from moving forward.
Second ward councilor Mark Kolinski said he e-mailed the other councilors and town supervisor on Friday, proposing the town hire an environmental attorney to represent the community.
“I do believe there will be other meetings, we’re going to push the DEC to check out the alternatives,” Kolinski said.
For Charlene Hart, one of several residents active in organizing the neighborhoods against the project, an alternative site is the only acceptable solution.
“At this point, there is nothing to talk about. Change the plan,” Hart said. “We’ve known about this for a little over three weeks, and look how the community has responded.”
The Camillus Personnel Committee will meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 and is expected to discuss hiring an environmental attorney to deal with the specifics of the Honeywell/DEC plan.
The committee is open to the public, but unlike town board meetings there is no opportunity for public comment.
The next Camillus Town Board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 23.
For more information about the DEC plan to create a Sediment Consolidation Area at Wastebed 13, visit dec.ny.gov and search “wastebed 13.”
To learn more about the community movement to oppose the plan, visit cleancny.com.