Sitting Atop a Pile of Garbage, Dyster Says: Give Us Your Trash
By Mike Hudson
In the beginning, there were the falls, the magnificent cataracts rushing towards destiny and distinguishing what would become our fair city from any place else in the world. First described by Father Louis Hennepin in 1679, it wouldn’t take long before men with dollar signs in the eyes began co-opting the natural wonder for their own interests.
Everything from shredded wheat to spray starch has used the Niagara name and image, and as time went on our city’s character has often served as a reflection of our nation’s interests as a whole.
For much of the hopeful 19th Century, newlywed couples came to Niagara Falls in such numbers that the city was dubbed the “Honeymoon Capital” of the world, leading British wag Oscar Wilde to make his famous quip about the falls themselves being the second biggest disappointment endured by blushing young American brides after marriage.
In 1896, the mad genius Nikola Tesla lit the streets of New York City from the generating plant he built on the river above the falls, his invention of alternating current becoming the most crucial development allowing the nation to transform itself from an agrarian giant into the modern superpower that would win two world wars.
Niagara Falls became the “Power City,” fueling the 20th Century’s insatiable hunger for electricity.
But looking around today, one sees precious little in the way of romance or power in our fair city. There is a lot of garbage, though.
From fracking waste to bald tires to the sorts of human beings some less compassionate society might incinerate, at the dawn of this new century an appropriate sobriquet for the formerly booming metropolis known as Niagara Falls might be the “Garbage Capital” or, simply, “Trash Town.”
The landscape dominated by the unnatural peak known locally as “Mt. Trashmore” and, more formally, as the BFI landfill, Niagara Falls has become a garbage magnet, a place where people and things nobody else wants can be disposed of.
An outfit from Gary, Ind., wants to set up shop on Frontier Avenue and burn tons of garbage imported from all over the country.
The company also said it plans to burn tires.
In addition Sterling also wants to build giant warehouses on Niagara Falls Blvd near 60th street to store tens of thousands of construction debris as it awaits burning.
Sterling Energy Group recently requested a 15-year in lieu of taxes agreement from the county’s Industrial Development Agency to accept and burn tons of dirty construction debris, the mold stinking mass of Hurricane Sandy, the condemned litter of ghettos of urban blight, wood and garbage, plastic and nails and who knows what else.
In a bit of public relations’ slickness, Sterling disguises the fact that it makes the lion’s share of its profits burning garbage by claiming it is actually producing electricity, something that amounts to a sideline business.
It’s the same sort of operation being run by another company here, Covanta Niagara LP, a subsidiary of Covanta Holding, at its facility on 56th Street. The neighborhood surrounding the Covanta plant has become overrun with rats, which neighbors have said were brought into the city along with the tons of garbage it imports.
Despite improved technology that reduces toxic emissions, burning garbage produces dangerous wastes in the form of gases and creates new hazards, like dioxins and furans, which are not present in raw garbage. Covanta burns something on the order of 821,250 tons of garbage a year, all of it coming from outside of Niagara Falls and much of it coming from outside the United States.
Three hundred foul smelling, fuel-guzzling garbage trucks dump their loads on 56th Street each and every day, about 60 percent of them coming from Canada, where sound environmental laws largely prohibit such operations.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and City Planner Tom DeSantis are enthusiastic supporters of burning even more garbage in the city they pretend to govern, and have even given their tacit approval to the processing of fracking waste imported from Pennsylvania at the city’s wastewater treatment plant on Buffalo Avenue.
The process of fracking, extracting natural gas from shale deposits, is not permitted yet in New York, but the treatment of the radioactive waste produced as a byproduct is permitted.
Dyster’s handpicked water superintendent, Paul Drof, journeyed to Albany a couple of years ago in order to secure a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation allowing the city to accept the waste, but an outcry from environmentally-minded activists, many of whom live downriver from the treatment plant, led the City Council led by the council majority of Sam Fruscione, Glenn Choolokian and Robert Anderson to pass a local law banning the practice.
Whether or not the city Water Authority is adhering to the ordinance is anyone’s guess, but the good folks who run the BFI landfill at Mt. Trashmore have chosen to ignore it. Allied/BFI Waste Systems has received a DEC permit to dump tons of frack mud that many believe is radioactive, into the landfill at its facility, creating a potential nightmare of contamination.
You can drink the water that comes out of the faucet at your Niagara Falls home if you want to, but isn’t bottled just better?
The New York State Division of Parole is also doing its part to ensure that Niagara Falls maintains its image as a garbage Mecca by importing hundreds of trash talking ex-convicts to our city every year.
Many of these - 119 at last count - are registered sex offenders, perverts, predators and pedophiles dumped in the city by the state with little or no regard to the danger they pose to women and children here.
These toxic pieces of human garbage often live near our schools and parks, and are free to roam the city at will. Asked about the overabundance of convicted sex offenders living in the city, Mayor Dyster pointed out “they have to live somewhere,” dismissing the concerns of city residents in his usual glib manner.
Whether the waste is human, radioactive or set to be burned, Dyster stands ready to accept it all with open arms. Beneath the green cloak of the environmentalist beats the heart of a money-grubbing polluter, the same sort responsible for the disaster at Love Canal, which ushered in the city’s reputation as a garbage capital.
He is the perfect mayor for the city we now know as Trash Town.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
SEP 10, 2013