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Housatonic Railroad to Discontinue Waste Operations

Five-year saga to shut down a solid waste facility in Hawleyville draws to a close.

After nearly five years of residents and town officials complaining about a solid waste facility in Hawleyville that earned multiple notices of violations from state regulators, the Housatonic Railroad has agreed to discontinue the operation and withdraw its permit for the facility to continue operating there in the future.

"In view of a number of factors, including the opinions expressed in your and that  a recognizable system has not been put in place to prevent additional or recurring violations, Housatonic Railroad has decided to withdraw its application," Ed Rodriguez, Housatonic's general counnsel said in a Dec. 26 letter to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection asking that the company's permit application be withdrawn.

The voluntary withdrawal means that the site at 30 Hawleyville Road will no longer be used to receive, reduce and ship out construction debris to Ohio, and because of changes in state regulation, will unlikely operate as such in the future unless the operation comes into compliance with new environmental standards.

"It is important to know and very significant for Newtown to know should the railroad decide for that location to serve as a loading operation, all of the new standards need to be met," First Selectman Pat Llodra said.

Because the solid waste facility had been in operation prior to the enactment of stricter environmental regulations, it had been able to skirt some of those laws, officials have said.

In addition to discontinuing operation, Newtown Transload, which ran the business on behalf of the railroad, must clear out its materials, equipment and other items from the site, Llodra said. The railroad also plans to continue remediating some of the damage done to the property as a result of the solid waste facility, according to Llodra. The site, however, will remain a transfer point for lumber and other railroad operations, activities considered a less intensive use of the property.

The news is a win for the town, Llodra said, adding that since 2007, the town has been battling Housatonic Railroad and Newtown Transload over environmental violations.

"It takes a lot of persistence," the first selectman said of the fight to shut down the solid waste facility. "Government has to be willing to stand behind those issues and stay with it."

Swami December 28, 2011 at 12:44 AM
Suppose you think that the Department of Health should NOT inspect restaurants. Wouldn't want to harass them would you?
Catherine December 28, 2011 at 03:51 AM
Eric, logical deduction that those who support this attrosity must benefit from it. Therfore, I am sorry for the negative impact on you... however, consider this, I come to your house and illegally dump a truck load of waste and garbarge on your property..how would you feel? Regarding your threat: "I hope you all enjoy the result, which won't be a good one." I will be forwarding and reporting it and Hoa, I ask that you monitor this person. He has put us notice and we must take heed.
Catherine December 28, 2011 at 03:58 AM
On second thought, all threats should be immediatley reported to the police. Hoa, please do so. Thank you.
NewtownMark December 28, 2011 at 04:09 AM
Yes - here we are again - instead of changing the regs in a responsible manner and allowing business to adapt, lets drive businesses to shut down. I hope Newtown can make up the lost tax revenue with another nail salon, wine shop or Chinese restaurant. If not don't dare ask for a tax increase from the property owners.
Will Jones December 28, 2011 at 04:19 AM
Catherine, no one has "threatened" anybody. Eric made the point that he feels that CT and Newtown have an anti-business slant, and that we as a state will eventually pay the price for that in lost jobs, tax revenues, etc. In fact, I often disagree with what Eric writes (including in this case), but I give his comments much more consideration than I otherwise might because of the very fact that he does not make threats, respond to silly challenges, or rise (lower himself?) to the childish baitings of others on these boards. In any event, I really don't think he's making any threats here.
Catherine December 28, 2011 at 04:24 AM
Wow... you are so "off the mark"....ILLEGAL poluting or activities should never be allowed or regulations changed.... Businesses comply ( and many do) or not. Yes, shut down everything illegal...! As a Newtown resident and property owner (which I doubt you are), I do not want tax revenue from an illegal and polluting venue.. I won't engage with you, but I say Congratulations Newtown and Hawleyville!... Thank you Pat Llodra and all involved. Well done!
NewtownMark December 28, 2011 at 04:38 AM
I get the feeling you would not be satisfied with anything less than a shutdown. If it were a true illegal dumping operation then where are the arrests? Seems more like the PC police not the DA's office did this
NewtownMark December 28, 2011 at 04:41 AM
BTW - doubt not and stop using the juvenile Alinski comments - they will not work here
Catherine December 28, 2011 at 04:48 AM
@ Will, While I am not familar with all of Eric's postings .. I do believe his comments here are threatening: "take everything of value" which regards illegal dumping and polluting.(Value on illegal activities?)..." I hope you all enjoy the result, which won't be a good one."Waste removal is a business. If you make it hard enough to do within the law, I promise you it will happen around the law. Dig a hole, waste goes in hole, cover it up, leave state=brand new brownfield super fund site." The last sentenance is from a prior post/threat.By his comments, this is scarey to me. Especially since for over 5 years our lands and waters have been polluted, Opportunity was there to work with the town and shunned. ,,etc.. HIs comments are (in my opinon) threatening and should be noted as thus.
NewtownMark December 28, 2011 at 01:19 PM
I know this is an assumption but I'll wager that Catherine drives a hybrid. I'm wondering if she has put any money aside for the proper disposal of the toxic batteries. You see do-gooders only see the bubble they live in at the moment and not that larger impact of their decisions.
Marie December 28, 2011 at 02:20 PM
"harassing" the company that is (was) trashing our community
NewtownMark December 28, 2011 at 03:22 PM
I'll ask again - where are the arrests?
Swami December 28, 2011 at 03:52 PM
Perhaps this will provide a light bit of LIGHT for the whiners: NEWTOWN -- The Hawleyville Solid Waste Rail Transfer Facility has ceased operation at 30 Hawleyville Road. "We are very, very pleased with the outcome," First Selectman Pat Llodra said Tuesday. Llodra said the transfer facility did not provide benefits to the town. The Housatonic Railroad Co., the business owner, did not pay taxes, and the facility created environmental problems and noise for residents in the town, she said. "There was no loss to Newtown" with the closing, Llodra said. Read more: http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Rail-waste-station-closes-in-Newtown-2427413.php#ixzz1hqSGmnT5
Marie December 28, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Not sure about the jobs. It is unfortunate for those employees who worked for an employer that would not clean up their act. It sounds like this operation didn't pay taxes. And its the transfer station business that is gone. The railroad will remain available - the Housatonic Railroad Company http://www.hrrc.com/ isn't going anywhere.
Swami December 28, 2011 at 04:44 PM
Perhaps you should help the railroad out, and suggest a few sights in your neck of the woods that they could use for their polluting.
Marie December 28, 2011 at 04:56 PM
I really do appreciate your concern about the economics here, especially people losing jobs (although not quantified for us, even one is too many); however, Transload continued is violations, turning its nose up to the town and to DEEP. It looks like the railroad did not want to continue down this road, possibly due to potential liability, maybe even because they value their reputation. Its not good to see businesses closing, but this one was not a good business for Newtown, for its neighbors, for the environment, for our tax rolls, for anything.
Marie December 28, 2011 at 04:59 PM
I'm done Eric. Have a good day.
Daniel Patti December 28, 2011 at 05:06 PM
"Nazi's"? Totally uncalled for.
Russ December 28, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Godwin's law invoked. Eric loses the argument.
Kevin Fitzgerald December 28, 2011 at 06:47 PM
This is good news and much credit goes to members of The Hawleyville Environmental Advocacy Team, HEAT, for bringing this issue to the forefront early on and for their consistent and effective communication with the public and state/town officials throughout the multi-year long process. Even when the odds werer against them, they persevered. Thank you also to our town officials and those State officials who worked on Newtown's behalf.
Sandy Hook December 29, 2011 at 12:14 AM
Accdording to the News-Times: The Housatonic Railroad Co., the business owner, did not pay taxes, and the facility created environmental problems .....
sandyhooker December 29, 2011 at 02:48 AM
Hmm, Lets move them to the old Bluelinx property than send all of Newtowns waste over there as well. Town owned scales and oversight. We might even turn a profit. Waste carting and management are a way of life. Lets do it cleanly,and profitably!
john pookman December 29, 2011 at 03:11 AM
I agree Sandyhooker. Thank you for a reasonable remedy,but I'm sure that they'll be another grassroots group to naysay it there as well. All I seem to read in these comments are criticisms but no cure.Sounds a lot like congress talking here. Who doesn't make waste or is in need of disposing of it? Properly you say? Maybe but who of these whiners wants to foot the bill according to stringent new eco-friendly guidelines? Have them put their money where their mouth is.It all sounds great on paper don't be fooled.Your next remodeling dumpster bill will be twice the price for your good deed.Get smart folks.
Sandy Hook December 29, 2011 at 01:32 PM
But, The Housatonic Railroad Co., the business owner, did not pay taxes. But I do. Do you?
john pookman December 30, 2011 at 02:01 AM
Oh I pay my taxes and are they dear! If they did would that sweeten the deal and would you let them have a voice then? I don't think thats the problem at heart here. You move by a rail hub you receive rail traffic. Forget quaint Hawleyville. It once used to see incessant railcars sixty years ago plus.Let it be revitalized for what it once was a gritty section of town that thrived with commerce.You'll save more of the environment by rail than by truck though it will be in your backyard.
John December 30, 2011 at 04:31 PM
Interesting comments on this subject. It appears we have two camps here and it not really about the Housatonic railroad. One that wants to keep Newtown as a bedroom community with no tax base (other than banks, nail salons, pizza, and Chinese resturants) and another who wants to work with businesses effectively to reduce the over all tax burden on residents. I am for option two. Quite frankly I miss the sounds of a train rolling by and liked the idea of the railroad as a continued part of our community. My question is, did the town do their part in exploring a compromise that would bring in tax revenue and reduce the polution? Judging by the towns recent track record, I doubt it.
Swami December 30, 2011 at 04:47 PM
The railroad had years to address the cited violations and clean up their act. No one deserves to have their water supply polluted. This is a victory for the good citizens of Hawleyville in particular, and Newtown in general. Learn to be a good corporate citizen and you're welcome in Newtown, otherwise, good riddance!
pat Llodra December 30, 2011 at 05:53 PM
John. The railroad will continue to be part of our community. HRR has a thriving lumber transport business at that location. The town has had a positive relationship with the HRR in the past and I expect that to be the future situation. The only aspect of the HRR business that is being denied is the waste transfer operation. There was no compromise to be sought in this issue. The environmental damage was real and significant. There was no commitment to remediation, and there was no plan to prevent further damage. The Town has the obligation under law to protect and preserve environmental quality. We cannot compromise away an impact on water quality; wetlands. And, just to be really clear, there was no tax benefit to the town and would not be in the future even if the waste hauling business expanded. (The Newtown Transload tax bill was $250.00 per year, all based on personal property.) We are very active in building a more diverse commercial/industrial presence and have had some recent successes but we strongly maintain that those endeavors have to be consistent with the core values of our community and have to meet environmental standards.
john pookman December 31, 2011 at 04:10 PM
In accordance with current regulations if the DEEP would have ventured further down the railline away from the HRR site they would find more aggregious violations that had occurred many decades past. These I'm sure have contributed more to the detriment of our water source than our recent problems with the HRR.This is a perfect example of a select few working against the benefit of the majority through litigation and a hyper sensitive town politic.This only addresses feelgood measures averting the hardcore decisions that need to be made for a society.Think congress.Remember the Newtown "blight issue"? I have lived in this town my whole life and have only seen it become more upkept throughout the years. There is no need for this ordinance.It only breeds gentrification by litigious means.Pencil pushers and do-nothings have been slowly taking over in the course of the last few decades.This leads to fingerpointing and deadlock. This is not advencement.I do not vote partylines nor do I favor pollution, only whats best for the majority not a select few idealists.
Eric March 13, 2014 at 02:57 PM
The criminals are the town and politicians who allow the municipal dump to operate over the Pootatuck Aquifer

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