Sealand Waste C&D Landfill Proposal in Town of Carroll
In response to a proposal by Sealand Waste, LLC, for a 1,000 ton per day landfill for construction and demolition debris, the Town of Carroll followed in the footsteps of a number of New York towns by enacting a local law prohibiting further landfilling anywhere in the town. Sealand's proposal is therefore dead unless the town changes the law again.
Unfortunately, the policy of the New York State Department Environmental Conservation is to proceed with the processing of an application for a state permit, even where a local permit cannot be obtained. In New York, landfills require two permits before construction can begin, one from the DEC and one from the local municipality.
Therefore, the DEC has scheduled a scoping session for May 3, 2005, at 6:30 p.m. at the Frewsburg Central School Auditorium, 26 Institute Street, Frewsburg, NY, to consider the scope of impacts Sealand should address in its environmental impact statement.
According to the DEC's public notice, in addition to C&D, Sealand would dump "other non-putrescible waste such as petroleum contaminated soil, ash, slag, foundry sand and tire chips, but not including wastewater treatment plant sludge, putrescible household waste and garbage." It is important to note that all these materials are legally deemed "non-hazardous," regardless of the hazards to soil, water and air that may be posed by collecting thousands of tons of such materials in one place. That is an important reason why New York's Environmental Conservation Law, which authorizes (and limits) DEC's regulations, states: "nothing in this title or in any rule or regulation which shall be promulgated pursuant to this title shall preclude the right of any governing body of a county, city, town or village to adopt local laws, ordinances or regulations which are not inconsistent with this title or with any rule or regulation which shall be promulgated pursuant to this title." ECL § 27-0711.
New York courts have consistently stated that a local prohibiton is "not inconsistent" with the ECL or DEC regulations because those laws are meant to protect the environment, and prohibiting an environmentally risky activity is more protective of the environment than the minimum standards required under state law.
Sealand's efforts to obtain a DEC permit may succeed, but it is a futile exercise. Without a local permit, Sealand will not be permitted to landfill in Carroll.