Great Valley wins against threat of new landfill
What happened in Great Valley shows the effectiveness of early participation by concerned citizens. The town has a very straightforward one-page local ordinance prohibiting all dumping of any wastes in the town.
Great Valley Town Supervisor Tony Barrile was unable to get a majority of his town board to support a new construction and demolition debris landfill in the valley. Barrile explained to the Salamanca Press that board members were fearful they could not stop more dumps if they dropped the existing local ban on landfills. Board members also feared a C&D dump that started out small, as proposed by J.D. Northrup Construction of Ellicottville, could be purchased and expanded later.
"If we had zoning I think it would be a different story, Barrile told the Press. "Without zoning I don't think we dare to let it happen." Barille added that the town board "just figured they were opening up another can of worms and down the road somebody else want [the proposed dump]." Salamanca Press, 3/13/01
After about 100 local people showed up at the board's initial informational meeting on March 6, most of them opposed to changing Great Valley's policy prohibiting all dumping, the Northrup company announced they were withdrawing their proposal. However, the company said they'd exercise their option to purchase the 260-acre parcel along Route 219 and the Great Valley Creek.
In the wake of CCCC's own views, published in the Ellicottville weekly Special Effects and the Olean Times Herald in advance of the March 6 meeting, Special Effects published a lengthy letter on March 16th from Great Valley resident and environmental attorney Stuart Thompson, currently working abroad as an advisor to the government in Bosnia.
Walker emphasized the potential for leakage of chlorine-containing toxics, lead and other heavy metals. Such leakage is promoted by the high acidity found in landfills. Walker also expressed surprise about the absence of any feasibility or engineering analysis in the Northrup proposal. Indeed, Mr. Northrup admitted at the March 6 he knew very little about the environmental protections provided under the state regulations for a landfill of this type, and he had done little to find out what level of protection would be required.
We've since had a chance to look at the state regulations and found they provide quite minimal protections. There is, for example, no liner required for a C&D landfill under three acres. Instead, the regulations require a "base system" of two feet of low-permeability soils. The normal siting restrictions applicable to other landfills also do not apply to this proposal, such as the thickness of high-density soils beneath the landfill (20 feet, Part 360-2.12(a)(1)(v)), and the prohibition against locating a landfill over a drinking water aquifer (Part 360-2.12(c)(i)(i)).
Perhaps of greater concern, the state regulations specifically exempt C&D landfills of any size from the requirement, applicable to all other landfills, that they "not be located in areas where environmental monitoring and site remediation cannot be conducted." 6 NYCRR 360-2.12(c)(5); 360-2.1 (exempting "those [C&D landfills] regulated under Subpart 360-7").
J.D. Northrup staff person John Reed, who presented the proposal to the public on March 6, stated that the company would be responsible for the perpetual care of the landfill, and that state regulations require a bond to finance such long-term care. However, we found that liability for post-closure care of a C&D landfill extends for only 30 years under the state regulations, and this requirement applies only to landfills greater than three acres. For C&D landfill under three acres, this requirement does not apply. See Part 360-2.19(d)(2)(1).
The minimum level of protection provided by state regulations--often no protection at all--reaffirms the wisdom of the 1990 Great Valley town board when it enacted a local ban on all dumping activities within the town. We hope that now that the town's policy is clear, no one else will come knocking on the door to sell something Great Valley has said it doesn't want.