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letter to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection asking that the company's permit application be withdrawn.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."