The Erie County Environmental Compliance Services (ECS) Program addresses both pollution and economic development issues by working in partnership with businesses and local officials to clean up problems such as hazardous waste disposal sites, air pollution from solvent emissions, and neighborhood dust and odor nuisances.
ECS supports Buffalo area economic recovery efforts by helping existing companies solve environmental problems and by helping new companies obtain regulatory permits and evaluate potential development sites. ECS conducts an outreach effort to identify environmental issues and to market its services. Staff members help private businesses and public agencies fill out applications for environmental permits; solve pollution control equipment operating problems; evaluate alternatives for waste disposal and recycling; and, comment on proposed state, federal and local laws, regulations and policies.
ECS also provides guidance through workshops, bulletins, and guidebooks in an effort to help small companies and municipalities that cannot pay for a full-time technical staff. With limited budgets, these companies also cannot afford to attend distant, expensive training sessions. In many cases, clients are not aware that regulations apply to them. ECS presents local workshops on topics such as bulk chemical storage and environmental aspects of buying and selling properties. The workshops are held at convenient locations such as area colleges, the convention center, and downtown facilities. Each bulletin deals with one subject and is mailed to a targeted audience. For example, a bulletin that explained removal of underground petroleum storage tanks was sent to 3,000 tank owners. The guidebooks provide a reference on a full range of environmental topics such as hazardous waste regulations, environmental permit requirements, and environmental aspects of real property transfers.
ECS clients include an estimated 3,000 businesses, 25 county agencies, 44 municipal governments, economic development agencies, banks, attorneys, state and federal agencies, school districts and citizens. Acceptance of the program by the business community and the public-private partnership the program fostered have been the greatest achievement to date. Requests for service have gone from about 60 requests in 1984 to 324 in 1987. Workshop attendance has met and exceeded expectations. Where 220 people attended ECS workshops in 1985, over 1,000 companies sent representatives in 1987. Where response to written bulletins resulted in 100 requests for assistance in 1985, over 300 companies requested help in 1987.