After filing multiple notices of violations to operators and owners of a Hawleyville solid waste transfer station and receiving no satisfactory answer, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is considering denying a permit that may in essence spell an end to future operations at the facility, according to officials.
"The department now has to look at other remedies to get the violations corrected," Robert Isner, director of the state agency's Bureau of Materials Management and Compliance Assurance, said Friday.
The department is expected to issue its final decision within the next week or so, having set a deadline of Dec. 23 on which property owner, Housatonic Railroad, and solid waste transfer station operator Newtown Transload, were to have submitted final documentation on the matter, officials said.
While the facility appears to have halted operation, the work stoppage was not due to an order from the DEEP, Isner said
"There's no directive from the department," he said. "That's not something the department has ordered."
State officials sent a terse letter to Housatonic Railroad and Newtown Transload last week expressing their dissatisfaction with operations at 30 Hawleyville Road, specifically citing four notices of violations issued during the past two years and little movement to correct those problems.
"DEEP has additionally concluded we have reached a point of impasse on the negotiations of the proposed consent order with Housatonic Railroad and Newtown Transload," Isner wrote in a letter sent last week to representatives of both companies. "At this point, the DEEP will be assessing other remedies as needed and appropriate to resolve this matter."
Isner said Friday no decision has been made on what those "other remedies" would be, and that it may be a week or more before a final determination has been made.
He declined to talk about what would likely occur in this case because the matter was pending, but Isner said typically, the agency has several steps available to it. One would be to reach a consent order – although that option would be unlikely in the face of an "impasse," officials said – and other possibilities would be to issue a cease-and-desist order, refer the matter to the Attorney General's office or deny the pending permit altogether.
In the case of the later, a denial of the permit would likely lead to the permanent demise of the property for use as a solid waste transfer site, officials have said.
Residents and town and state officials have complained about the property for years, specifically citing violations in bringing in and carting away demolition debris and general operations at the site. Recently, DEEP appeared to have concurred with residents and local officials, issuing notices of violation to the railroad and Newtown Transload.
Months later, many of those issues remain unresolved, and no one appears to be taking responsibility for compliance, state officials said.
"DEEP remains concerned that there seems to be an impaired relationship between Housatonic Railroad Company, Inc. and Newtown Transload, Inc., whereas the two parties cannot ensure compliant operations nor can they agree on who is responsible to ensure compliant operations of the solid waste facility," officials wrote in last week's letter.
Isner said the relationship between property owner and plant operator appeared broken, which was allowing the violations to persist.
"There is a pattern of practice," he said.
While the town has some on the property, particularly the , the state, namely the DEEP, has jurisdiction over the railroad.
In October, the and its operators with failing to unload waste within an enclosed structure, failing to exclude hazardous materials and other restricted materials, failing to maintain fire protection equipment and failing to post appropriate signs and monthly summaries.