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HomeWorldWhy a Landfill as Tall as the Statue of Liberty May Rise...

Why a Landfill as Tall as the Statue of Liberty May Rise Even Higher | International news

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It’s hard to miss Seneca Meadows, the largest landfill in New York State: At nearly 300 feet tall, it’s almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty, including its pedestal.

A deposit of millions of tons of decades-old trash, spread over more than 350 acres, is an artificial viewing point visible from miles away. For houses to the east, it causes an early sunset.

And then, of course, there is its smell, an ever-changing stench that has inspired comparisons to garbage cans and dirty diapers, rancid meat and rotten fruit, as well as online maps of where it “stinks.”

But for the past few years, it looked like the olfactory abuse would soon end: Under state permits, the landfill was due to close by the end of 2025.

Now, however, the landfill’s owner, the Texas-based company waste connectionshas indicated in state filings that it wants approval to fill a 47-acre “valley” between two of the site’s giant mounds, enough to fill MetLife Stadium 10 times, at least: a project that is estimated to last until 2040.

That project would raise the top of Seneca Meadows about 70 feet (about the height of a 35-story building), making it one of the tallest man-made structures in upstate New York and an atypical odor in the largely bucolic Finger Lakes region.

Residents in and around Seneca Falls have long complained about a number of problems related to the site, including truck traffic, choking dust and the potential for landfill runoff, known as leachate, to contaminate the drinking water.

They tell stories of “garbage explosions” in which an outer earthen wall collapses, resulting in a waterfall of garbage. Flocks of pesky seagulls, in search of free food, circle constantly, depositing their guano on the roofs, cars and customers of nearby shopping centers.

Even supporters of the landfill, the oldest sections of which date back to the 1950s, admit they would love for Seneca Meadows (and all its associated ills) not to be there.

“If we had to make a decision today, with what we know, obviously there wouldn’t be any landfill there,” he said. Michael J. Ferrara, a Seneca Falls town supervisor and lifelong resident, who has supported the expansion plan. “But she’s been here a long time.”

Keeping the landfill open likely makes the company a better neighbor, he suggested.

“They are not going to take the landfill with them: unfortunately it will still be here,” Ferrara said. “If it’s open, they have to take care of it a lot more.”

Waste Connections representatives declined to comment on their critics or the “Valley filling” projectwhich is currently being evaluated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The site’s district director, Kyle Black, directed a reporter the Seneca Meadows website for details on current operations and expansion plan, which the company initial application says it’s needed “to provide critically needed solid waste disposal services locally and for the state.”

That flow of garbage is undeniable: more than two million tons arrive annually via thousands of trucks roaring down the New York State Thruway. According to the company’s 2021 report annual report (the most recent available) that avalanche of trash includes solid waste, construction debris and a category known simply as “sludge.”

The waste comes from across the state and further afield, but its biggest source is New York City, which shipped about a quarter of the total haul in 2021, averaging about 1,500 tons daily.

The expansion plan has sparked an outcry from many environmentalists and business owners in the two neighboring communities: Seneca Falls, known as the birthplace of the women’s rights movement and a supposed inspiration for “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and Waterloo, which claims to be the birthplace of Memorial Day.

In February, Hundreds of people signed a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, pleading with her to stop the expansion, pointing to a host of problems with the landfills, including widespread emissions of “climate-destroying greenhouse gases.” like methane.

Others accuse the company of buying off members of the Seneca Falls town board. through large campaign expenditures on behalf of landfill-friendly candidates by a group known as Responsible solutions for New York. The group has received at least $195,000 in donations from Waste Connections since early 2019, according to state election records.

One of the winning candidates in 2021, Kaitlyn Laskoski, a Republican, denied knowing anything about the group Responsible Solutions and said she was “just as surprised” when she received mailings paid for by the group supporting her campaign. She added that she had not yet formed an opinion on the expansion and said she wanted to “make sure the proper procedure is followed.”

There were signs earlier this month that the expansion could face some official local opposition, when the town board, including Ms. Laskoski, voted to the table to lucrative deal with waste connections.

The leachate produced by the site (about 200,000 gallons per day, on average) is particularly concerning to activists like Joseph Campbell and Yvonne Taylor, two of the founders of Seneca Lake Keepera group that seeks to safeguard the waters of the Finger Lakes.

According to the company’s 2021 report, tens of millions of gallons of that leachate, contaminated by toxic substances such as arsenic and a variety of hazardous chemicals, were collected and sent to treatment facilities across the state, including Buffalo, the Ms. Hochul’s hometown. But environmentalists there and elsewhere have raised the alarm about the ability of such public systems to manage some of those toxins.

“We are an American wine country,” he said. “It supports 60,000 jobs, a $3 billion industry here, tourism and agriculture, which depend on clean air and water to survive.”

Opposition also includes the landfill’s neighbor, Waterloo Container, a bottle wholesaler on the other side of Route 414, whose employees have complained of “a sewer smell” that makes them nauseous and makes them rush to close the warehouse windows. .

Bill Lutzcompany president and a long-time local resident, said the landfill had profoundly altered “the entire environment in two municipalities.”

“They’ve changed the air quality, they’ve changed the temperature,” Lutz said, noting that decomposition inside the landfill generates “so much heat” that central New York punish the winter snows they often do not accumulate on the site.

A final version of company plans They are likely to be released in the coming weeks and face a series of state environmental reviews. Your prospects could be complicated by the state’s ambitious plan to reduce emissions, approved in 2019.

The Department of Environmental Conservation said it was reviewing hundreds of public comments it received since the landfill expansion was proposed.

Trucking of trash upstate continues even as New York City has taken steps in recent months to try to address excess trash. In June, the City Council approved a packet of bills requires curbside compostingand that established 2030 as a target date for eliminate all organic and recyclable matter from your waste stream.

sand nurse, a Brooklyn city councilwoman who sponsored several of those bills, says he supports closing Seneca Meadows.

“We just throw it away and think it goes away, but it doesn’t,” Ms Nurse said.

He noted that the city spent about $450 million a year shipping its trash to other states, as well as upstate New York.

Frank Sinicropi, another Seneca Falls board member who supported the headquarters agreement with the landfill, was blunt. “Ask the mayor of New York City,” he said, “where the city’s trash will go.”

Waste Connections seems well aware of public relations challenges: The company has a complaints hotline, which results in a site visit by a landfill representative and a formal report, although some residents complain that those reports They are generally not considered conclusive.

Landfill managers also use a variety of methods to try to mitigate odors, including aerators that release a floral-scented mist along the periphery of the site.

Seneca Meadows’ website says the company is working to collect methane released by decomposition, using part to generate electricityand adding that the waste it accepts is “no dangerous”.

Black said in an email that the company offers dozens of jobs at the landfill and dozens more in construction and operations.

The company has been active in community organizations and events, including in late July, when hundreds of locals flocked to the Seneca Meadows open house, lining up for a free bounce house and barbecue chicken, an antique car show and a live falconry demonstration. (The company uses about a dozen of those black-eyed birds of prey to scare away seagulls.)

Perhaps the most popular attraction were the tours of the landfill above the open house, with buses slowly climbing the slope to the top, which offers stunning views of the landfill (and landscape), as well as the piles of trash. shredded rubber tires used in landfill lining system.

These outreach efforts have resonated with people like Bill Ryan, 74, a retired accountant and longtime Waterloo resident, who said he believed Seneca Meadows was “a wonderful thing for the community,” noting the jobs and several local events they supported, including Friday night fireworks show at this year’s county fair.

Standing at the fairgrounds, just beyond the borders of the landfill, Ryan said complaints about the stench were exaggerated.

“The smell is a nuisance,” said Ryan, who was wearing a Seneca Meadows hat. “The smell is not a danger.”

Audio produced by sara diamond.



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