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Schumer letter to STB 08-05


August 12, 2005
The Honorable Roger Nober
Chairman, Surface Transportation Board
1925 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20423
Fax: 202-565-9016 Phone: 202-565-1592
                                                        Re: Northeast Interchange Railway
Dear Chairman Nober:

        The Surface Transportation Board has before it an application by the Northeast Interchange Railway (NIR) for an entirely inappropriate use of the preemption provisions of the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act.  I urge you to reject this application.

An affiliate of NIR, Regus Industries, is seeking to buy a company that owns several solid waste facilities in Westchester County, New York.  One of these, the Metro Enviro transfer station in the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, has accumulated such a long series of violations that the New York Court of Appeals just last month upheld the Village’s order that it shut down.  This followed a multi-year investigation by a federal court-appointed monitor who discovered many violations at this facility, including accepting industrial waste and falsifying tonnage records.   

In an effort to stay open, however, the facility’s owners are trying to sell to a company affiliated with a railroad.  The rationale is that the 1,600-foot-long rail spur between the facility and the Metro North tracks somehow makes the whole operation a railroad that is exempt from state and local environmental controls. The local municipality, the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, is concerned about losing its ability to oversee and control the kinds and quantities of materials transported over the rail spur, and the way they are handled while on the site. Under the current owner, the Village has permitting authority over the facility, enabling it to impose and enforce reasonable environmental controls.

The STB should see through this transparent attempt to shield an environmentally problematic operation from environmental oversight.  The STB has many important functions, but they do not include taking over the functions of state and local environmental and zoning agencies.  If the STB grants this application, there will be no end to the industrial facilities that happen to be on rail spurs and that will attempt to use the same technique to avoid environmental regulation.

Sincerely,


Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator