3,000 Waterloo residents were evacuated on August 25, 1999, in response to a chemical fire on top of the Seneca Meadows Landfill. Impregnite, a substance that is about 10 percent zinc oxide and about 90 percent oxochloro carbonite and sprayed on military mortar shells to stabilize them, was dumped at the spot the fire started. The chemical is thought to originate from the Romulus, NY, Seneca Army Depot cleanup effort.
Waterloo resident and evacuee William Atkachonis was quoted by the Post-Standard (Syracuse) (8/26/99): "I saw an orange, brown smoke, but no flames way up on top of the landfill. I am disgusted with the operation of that landfill." Kenneth Miller, another evacuee from Seneca Falls who lives next door to the landfill, said: "It was an accident waiting to happen when you put all that stuff together. But the landfill has money, and money talks." Ellen Lux, also evacuated, said: "We've lived here for 15 years, and I'm concerned about its operation.... I don't trust that place, given its history."
75 firefighters from local fire departments using self-contained breathing apparatus fought the fire from noon till after 4 P.M. when residents within a 1.5 mile radius of the landfill were allowed to return to their homes. Ignition of the chemical wastes occurred despite the presence of a DEC monitor stationed at the landfill.
Two local citizens groups have formed in recent years to watch landfill operations, Finger Lakes Citizens for the Environment and Save Our Community. Teresa Bryan of Save Our Community said she's been telling the Seneca Falls Town Board and DEC officials that at the landfill "things like this can and do happen."