Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County
updated 4/20/06
Seneca Meadows Landfill, Town of Seneca Falls, NY

New York's largest landfill proposes to add a new 178-acre landfill adjacent to its existing 57-acre landfill located in the Town of Seneca Falls (Seneca Co.). A public meeting will be held on the proposal May 16, 2006 at the Seneca Falls Community Center, located at 35 Water Street, Seneca Falls, NY at 7:00 P.M.

Petitions to intervene in opposition to the proposal must be received at the DEC Office of Hearings and Mediation Services, by 5:00 p.m. on May 30, 2006. Petitions must be submitted to the DEC hearings officer, and the attorneys for the DEC Staff and the applicant, as provided in the public notice here:

The application is available here:

Petitions must set forth expert opinion asserting that specific adverse impacts would result that, under applicable regulations, would justify permit denial or a major modification to the proposal. DEC advises that opponents with similar interests consolidate their resources and file a common petition.

At 6,000 tons per day, no other landfill in New York is permitted to dispose as much waste as Seneca Meadows. The proposed 178-acre expansion would keep the site an active dump for 14 years after 2009, the year the existing landfill is currently projected to reach capacity. A local rail line is planned to support a major expansion that could make this landfill among the largest in the nation.

Seneca Meadows Landfill is over forty years old.  The company owns 530 acres of land west of N.Y.S. Route 414, north of Salcman Road, in the Town of Seneca Falls on the Town of Waterloo border. Groundwater flows connect the site to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge to the north, visible from the New York State Thruway near Waterloo. The Montezuma Refuge is a protected habitat for the bog turtle, the bald eagle, the osprey and other threatened or endangered species.

Accordingly, in addition to a state solid waste disposal permit, Seneca Meadows is requesting a permit to destroy 71 acres of Class 2 regulated Freshwater Wetlands due to the new landfill.

Two inactive hazardous waste dumps are located on the site, 55 acres and 25 acres in size.

Since at least 1997, nearby residents have complained about their health. After studying the landfill, the state Department of Health concluded, "It is possible for extreme landfill odors to cause adverse health effects in exposed individuals," and "No air study . . . can quantify and evaluate every potential toxin in landfill gas."

Because of its age the original landfill lacks the double liner system of newer dumps. However, this has not prevented NYSDEC from approving a substantial expansion of the landfill's capacity in the past. Expansion of Seneca Meadows is justified in part by a NYSDEC's policy of ensuring "self-sufficiency" in landfill capacity within the state. With New York City generating in the neighborhood of 10 millions tons of waste each year, this "self-sufficiency" policy is impossible to achieve without dramatic reductions in the urban waste stream, making DEC the champion of all new landfill expansion or permit applications for the forseeable future.

The expansion approved in 1999 increased the dump's elevation to 763 feet (up from 707.5 feet) and its design capacity to 4,700 tons per day (up from 3,500 tons), extending the life of the landfill eight to twelve years. In 2001, the landfill was permitted to increase its capacity to 6,000 tons per day. Seneca Meadows argues a need is presented by the busy summer season, which might force it to turn away a customer, although LaRocca admitted that has never happened.

The Town of Seneca Falls revised its zoning ordinance in 2000 to prohibit further expansion of the landfill. However, the current town board appears to have dropped its opposition to further expansion. Without both local and DEC permission, an expansion could not go forward.
On November 14, 2002, hundreds of residents filled the gym in the Seneca Falls Community Center to voice their opposition to continued smells and health risks they believe the landfill creates. The Town Supervisor distributed handouts showing that the owner of a home assessed at $30,000 will pay about $12 in taxes in 2003 because of host community payments from the landfill, as opposed to $268.80 without the landfill. One town board member said budget cutting could allow the town to sustain the loss of landfill revenues if that's what the people want. (Finger Lakes Times, 11/15/02)
The citizens didn't buy it. On December 4, 2002, in the face of 2,000 signatures on a petition to say no to further expansion, the Town Board sided with citizens on a 4-1 vote, deciding to let the local zoning stand. This should put an end to Seneca Meadows' plans for a longer life for some time.

Chemical fire forces evacuation of local residents 8/25/99
FingerLakes Citizens for the Environment Newsletter (April, 2000)
Finger Lakes Citizens for the Environmental Newsletter (December 2001)
               Town Board says no to further expansion (Dec. 2002)

Read the Finger Lakes Times' account of the vote (Dec. 5, 2002)
Go to map of NYS landfills
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