Landfills in the
news and related solid waste policy news
SCORECARD: WHERE WASTE
GOES IN NEW YORK
Current DEC data
over 41 million tons of permitted capacity in six commercial landfills
existed at the end of 2002. About four million tons was dumped there in
2002, and that lost capacity has been replaced by the balance of 8
million tons added to Waste Management’s High Acres Landfill in Monroe
County and four million removed by the close of the Al Turi Landfill in
Orange County this year.
As they've done for the last five years, these commercial landfills
proved unable to find enough waste to match their annual permitted
disposal rates, leaving over a million tons of space unused at the end
of the year. This is in contrast to New York's 22 publicly-owned
landfills, which left a third of this amount unused.
To the 45 millions tons of privately-owned disposal capacity, New
York's publicly-owned landfills add another 52 million tons. Another 11
million tons was incinerated in 2002 at 10 facilities in New York. As
we've detailed in past Updates, capacity stays ahead of need in New York
by permitting more and more expansions of older landfills, many of which
were not constructed in conformity to modern regulations or were
permitted variances from current depth to groundwater or depth to
In this issue we focus on New York’s three new landfill proposals, all
of which require such variances, and which together would add another 37
million tons of disposal capacity in New York.
LANDFILL PROPOSAL COMMENT PERIOD OPENS
A deadline for public comments has been set for January 2, 2004 on the proposal
by Integrated Waste Systems of Buffalo
to build a new
17-million-ton, 3,000 ton-per-day landfill in the Town of Farmersville
(Cattaraugus Co.). A Notice of Complete Application was issued on Oct.
24, and the comment period notice should appear in this week’s Environmental Notice
and local papers. IWS
has agreed to post its application materials on the web.
Last December IWS filed bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure for failure to
pay property taxes on the Farmersville site for over three years. In
1998, Southern Tier Waste Services purchased IWS for $1.00. There is no
indication that either company has any employees, and it is rumored that
IWS’s environmental engineering firm is preparing the application
materials on a contingent fee basis. IWS is expected to sell the permit
if issued. The company has ties to Casella
, which purchased IWS’s Schultz C&D Landfill in
Cheektowaga and now employs IWS’s former Chief Engineer as CEO of its
New York operations.
MANAGEMENT ALBION (“TOWPATH”) LANDFILL PERMIT UNDER FIRE
A hearing in Albany County Supreme Court on Waste Management’s proposal
to build a 7.35-million-ton new
landfill in Albion
(Orleans Co.), next to two closed hazardous waste
sites, has been postponed to December 12. The DEC recently issued
permits for the landfill, but a local environmental group Stop Polluting Orleans
(SPOC) and the statewide organization Citizens’ Environmental Coalition
have petitioned to review the permit decisions of the DEC Commissioner
in two areas: first, an interim decision denying SPOC an opportunity to
bring evidence of influence by Waste Management, Inc. on the compliance
practices of Waste Management of New York; and second, an unexpected
rejection of DEC Staff environmental monitors in the DEC
Commissioner’s final decision, despite lack of dispute by any party over
that provision. The SPOC-CEC petition is on our website, with more
PROPOSAL FACES HURDLES
A 12.9-million-ton new
landfill proposal in Ava
(Oneida Co.) is awaiting a decision in a
lawsuit brought by the landfill sponsor Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste
Authority against the N.Y. Wetlands Appeals Board, which earlier
directed the DEC to review impacts of the proposed landfill on the
American Bittern, classified as a “vulnerable” bird species. The SWA’s
lawsuit challenges that species classification, which would also
reclassify the surrounding wetlands. (See our July 5
.) Following three years over which hearings were held,
in June the ALJ recommended all DEC permits be issued, but no final
decision has been made. Oral argument in the SWA lawsuit is scheduled
for Nov. 19 at the Oneida County Supreme Court in Rome.
Meanwhile, in the electoral contest for Oneida County Executive, both
candidates have denounced the SWA’s landfill proposal, which may bring
all efforts to build the landfill to nought.
MANAGEMENT’S CHAFFEE LANDFILL TITLE V PERMIT REOPENED FOR CAUSE
Waste Management of N.Y. faces a new round of public comments after the
EPA ordered the DEC to reopen and revise the
Chaffee Landfill's Title V air permit
. The EPA found, contrary to
the DEC, the landfill is a major source of VOC emissions, and emissions
from the landfill's flare make it a major source of carbon monoxide.
(The EPA order is posted on our website with more background.) A public
comment period on the revised permit closes Nov. 7.
Although a calculation of maximum potential to emit CO shows the
landfill could emit well in excess of 250 tons of CO per year, it is
proposed to reduce gas flow from the landfill to its flare, thereby
capping CO emissions at 240 tons. However, this “cap” involves no
process changes, and maximum gas flow rate has been calculated to exceed
Another potential issue is whether all emission sources under “common
control” are included in the estimate of “facility-wide” emissions. The
landfill operates an on-site paint spray booth that paints trash
rolloffs, heavy equipment and garbage trucks with a potential to emit 49
tons of VOC per year. If the last landfill expansion in 2000 increased
VOC emissions over 40 tons per year, new source review was circumvented.
If the expansion permit ignored the added CO produced by an increase 15
to 50 gas wells and the associated increased flow rate to the sole
landfill flare, PSD was circumvented.
TURI LANDFILL REMAINS CONTROVERSIAL AFTER CLOSURE
The “common control” issue is being considered by the EPA at the Al Turi
, where emissions from an on site gas-to-energy plant were
disregarded by the DEC when drafting Al Turi’s Title V permit. The EPA
has agreed to respond to objections by NYPIRG
and the local environmental organization Citizens Who Care (posted on
our website) in January.
Earlier this year Al Turi withdrew an application to renew its
operating permit in the face of Orange Environment, CWC, and the DEC’s
opposition on ground of lack of fitness to hold a permit.
CONTINUES TO GROW IN NEW YORK
Casella subsidiary Hakes C&D Landfill in the Town of Painted Post
(Steuben Co.) is expected to receive permission to an increase capacity
from 417 tons per day to 1,000 tons per day. The public comment period
closed Oct. 17.
Last month Casella
was selected to operated the McKean County (PA) landfill
south of Cattaraugus County, under an agreement to charge over $60 per
ton for disposal, double the going rate in the region. Next year the
in nearby Angelica (Allegany Co.) comes up for its third
and final referendum on whether to allow the landfill to grow. With an
eye on the Farmersville landfill proposal, if Casella wins in Angelica
it will need to direct tens of millions of additional tons of garbage to
the southwestern corner of the state.
--Gary Abraham, CCCC