In Buffalo, NY, a State Supreme Court Justice recently chose to dismiss a lawsuit brought by two local residents regarding how hazardous waste was being treated and stored at a local landfill. According to Justice Mark Montour, the Niagara County landfill lawsuit filed by two county residents offered no real evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the company operating the landfill, CWM Chemical Services. Along with this company, Justice Montour also noted there appeared to be insufficient evidence against Waste Management Inc., an affiliated company of CWM Chemical Services, along with the State of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
Basis of the Niagara County Landfill Lawsuit
According to the plaintiffs, the basis of their lawsuit centered on the county’s CWM Balmer Road landfill facility. Based on their testimony, they contended that even though land disposal at Balmer Road ceased over three years ago, hazardous waste shipments were still being conducted via third-party companies to the nearby RMU-1 landfill, which had closed in June 2017. Due to these supposed actions, the plaintiffs argued that a previous New York State Hazardous Waste Facility Board approved hazardous waste treatment and storage in the early 1990s, but only for the RMU-1 landfill. Thus, if they understood the ruling correctly, the plaintiffs argued that the DEC took an incorrect position once RMU-1 closed, which involved allowing CWM to permanently treat and store hazardous waste by stating CWM’s certificate made allowances for this to take place. Because they believed this was not allowed under New York law, the Niagara County landfill lawsuit was thus filed.
While the plaintiffs felt as though they had a strong case, so did the defendants. According to CWM Chemical Services and Waste Management Inc., both companies were well within their legal rights in performing any actions regarding the treatment and storage of hazardous waste. And in addition to this, they argued and the judge from the lower court agreed that any activities being conducted by both companies at the facility were legal. Finally, the judge also ruled that the defendants lacked the proper legal standing to file their Niagara County landfill lawsuit, lacking proper standing regarding the matter. However, it was noted by the court that local municipalities such as Lewiston and Youngstown could not intervene in the matter, and also that Waste Management Inc. did not have jurisdiction in New York. After examining the evidence and hearing the arguments from both sides, Justice Montour ruled that as of now, both CWM and Waste Management are allowed to continue current operations regarding the treatment and storage of hazardous waste, based on the permit they currently possess.
Can Plaintiffs Pursue Further Legal Action?
As with any other type of court case, there are still avenues available for those who come out on the losing end. In this instance, the plaintiffs have 30 days from the date of a final order in which to appeal. And with the final written decision expected to become available several weeks from now, both plaintiffs have stated they plan to continue pursuing legal action against CWM and Waste Management Inc. to halt their treatment and storage of hazardous waste. The plaintiffs believe that evidence will make their case very clear to an appeals court, while also thinking CWM and Waste Management Inc. have evidence pointing only to speculation. Either way, the case is expected to continue working its way through various New York courts.
Learn more about Hazardous Chemical Lawsuits.