NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - The wheels are in motion to bring garbage from New York City into Niagara Falls, but the plan is running into fierce opposition from residents who don't want it hauled through their neighborhood.
Covanta Energy is pouring millions of dollars into a major expansion, but Niagara Falls doesn't want to see NYC trash come to the Honeymoon Capital. But Wednesday night's public information meeting was more of a formality because the Niagara Falls Planning Board has already granted permission for the trash train proposal.
Covanta Energy is spending $30 million to expand a rail line that would bring in garbage from NYC. The company has operated its Buffalo Avenue site for about 30 years, burning garbage to provide steam energy for surrounding businesses.
Almost half of the garbage burned lately has come from Toronto and been brought to the plant by truck. But the expansion would set up a rail line from NYC, and the company says it wouldn't be any additional garbage.
Business manager Kevin O'Neil said, "We're taking waste that was coming in by truck from Ontario and replacing that with waste coming by train. So now you're taking 120 trucks, by train, you're eliminating the road, the safety issues, you're eliminating the diesel emissions and you're replacing it with one train no one sees it come in."
But some residents believe the plant is responsible for bringing more rats to their neighborhood.
Ronda Grose said, "I have seen with my own eyes rats jumping off garbage trucks headed for Covanta as they go through my neighborhood because of the construction."
Sewer line construction near the plant may have contributed to a rat problem, and Covanta is working with certain neighbors to eradicate it.
The Falls Planning Board also heard from just as many Covanta workers who say it's good for the community. Andrew Wyant was a guard at the gate for three years.
"I can tell you, I [have] never seen a rat jump off a truck before," he said.
Covanta Energy is still awaiting permits from the DEC and NYC for this plan to go through. The plant already takes in 800,000 tons of trash each year, which is all it is allowed, and officials say one train would replace around 120 trucks.
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