FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6, 2006
Schumer Presses Feds For Straight Answers On Proposed Rail Garbage Project
Chartwell International Has Acquired 15 Miles Of Railroad Track In Middletown For Unknown Use
Senator Probes Feds On Possible Trash Plant And Compliance With State And Local Laws
Schumer: If Loophole Exists, We Need To Close It ASAP
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today questioned the Surface Transportation Board (STB) on its plans with regard to Chartwell International’s purchase of the Middletown & New Jersey Railway, a 15-mile stretch of track in Middletown, NY and its possible use. There have been varied reports with respect to Chartwell’s plans for its acquisition, and their Chief Financial Officer has said that the development of a solid waste transfer station would be exempt from state and local laws because the rails fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal Surface Transportation Board.
“While I am pleased that this piece of rail has found an investor, I am concerned about both the lack of information coming from the company and its eventual plans for the rail line,” Schumer said. “I have many questions for the STB, and the residents of Middletown deserve straight answers. I am troubled that Chartwell may seek to avoid state oversight and exploit a perceived loophole in solid waste regulations by siting this facility on a rail line. This community has valid concerns that must be heard, and Chartwell should not seek to avoid complying with state and local regulations.”
A few months ago, Chartwell expressed an interest in constructing a solid waste transfer station in Middletown. Subsequently, a representative of Chartwell expressed at a town hall meeting hosted by Middletown that its plans were in a “development stage.” Chartwell said it could potentially use the line for locating a solid waste transfer station, hauling construction debris, or transporting limestone and coal to the area from Chartwell’s mine in Ohio. The community has raised particular concerns about the reported solid waste transfer station, which could present both safety and environmental issues.
In a personal letter to W. Douglas Buttrey, Chairman of the Surface Transportation Board, Schumer wrote: “There is considerable confusion regarding the regulatory role of STB with regard to solid waste facilities located on rail lines, and a corresponding lack of clarity regarding whether or not state solid waste licensing and regulatory regimes, in this instance the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) rules and regulations, apply to these types of facilities.” Schumer’s inquiry focused on STB’s interaction with local officials and whether the STB would exercise oversight. An additional concern is raised by the reports that Chartwell may attempt to avoid STB jurisdiction over its acquisition and any new facilities by acquiring only the stock of the current owner. Schumer asked the STB for clarification about whether its regulations contained such a loophole.
Schumer’s letter also said: “Chartwell has maintained that due to STB jurisdiction over rail lines, it need not conform with local and state environmental laws. It is clear to me that the DEC’s rules and regulations give it jurisdiction over solid waste transfer stations. They also give DEC a role in processing construction and demolition debris. In addition, these rules and regulations lay out guidelines on the construction of these stations as well as how to operate them and dispose of the waste. I am very concerned that Chartwell may plan to ignore every one of these rules and regulations based on its assertion that the STB has full authority.”