Letter to DEC about Waste Management Proposal
November 10, 2009
Mr. Angelo Marcuccio
DEC Division of Environmental Permits
1130 N. Westcott Road
Schenectady, New York 12306-2014
Re.: Waste Management, Port of Albany Material Recycling Facility, add Municipal Solid Waste
DEC Application ID #4-0101-00185/00002
Dear Mr. Marcuccio:
Waste Management of New York, LLC (WM) has applied to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for authorization to add MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE (MSW) to the types of waste they are presently authorized to accept at their facility in the Port of Albany.
The residents of the South End live in an “environmental justice area” which requires WM to notify the public about their proposal and to conduct information sessions. A public information meeting was held on Thursday, November 5 at 6:00pm at the Albany Housing Authority’s offices, 200 South Pearl Street. Many of the people who attended this meeting spoke against WM’s proposal to expand the types of waste they are allowed to accept in their Port facility. The Second Avenue Neighborhood Association, at its October 26, 2009 meeting, approved a motion opposing WM’s application.
I am opposed to the expansion of WM’s present permit condition allowing them to accept ONLY “dry” material – construction and demolition debris and recyclable commercial materials - for the following reasons:
If the application is approved, WM will be allowed to accept MSW, referred to as: “…waste placed at the curb by residents for weekly collection.” MSW is putrescible waste that decomposes and results in nuisance conditions. Putrescible waste is attractive to “vectors” – rats, crows, pigeons, and other vermin – which feed on the organic waste and then transport the germs, bacteria, and other disease-causing agents to areas outside the immediate facility, thus exposing children and adults to possible illness or other health-related conditions.
The area adjacent to WM’s Port facility is an “environmental justice area.” This means that our community which is a minority community and a community where a significant number of people live at or below the poverty level, is already overburdened by detrimental environmental conditions (such as air pollution, brownfields, etc.) and therefore should not be burdened even further with another harmful environmental condition.
WM has proven that it cannot be trusted to adhere to the conditions of its present permit, thus causing concern for their compliance with an expanded permit. On May 8, 2009, DEC conducted an unannounced inspection of the WM facility located at 300 Church Street in the Port of Albany. The inspector found that WM was in violation of permit condition 6 NYCRR Part 360. The inspector wrote: “Load from New Baltimore Rest Stop contained ALL putrescible waste – strong garbage smell[,] several gallons of brown liquid poured from collection vehicles. Total of 3 loads Tipped during inspection.” DEC fined WM for this violation. This violation occurred at the same time WM was appearing before the BZA seeking approval to accept MSW! So, WM was already taking in putrescible waste without DEC approval and without modifying their facility to handle “several gallons of brown liquid” and to control the “strong garbage smell”. One wonders how long this violation of their permit was going on for prior to the unannounced inspection? One wonders how many tons of liquid and putrescible waste was brought to WM’s facility, leaked into the Hudson River, and adversely affected the residents in the adjacent neighborhoods to this facility prior to the unannounced inspection? Based on this violation of their operating permit, alone, WM should be denied their application for an amendment to their permit allowing them to accept MSW at their Port facility.
During both the public information session and the November 9, 2009 BZA hearing on the proposal, the owner of County Waste told us, on the record, that if WM gets approval to accept MSW, then he would also seek approval for his facility on South Pearl Street to be allowed to accept additional types of waste. This is exactly what many residents fear: that the South End will become a “dumping ground” for garbage – approve one expanded permit condition, and others are sure to follow. After County Waste, could Allied Waste or another waste removal company, be far behind?
Furthermore, during testimony at the BZA hearing, WM representatives said that by allowing them to accept MSW in addition to the already allowed “dry” material they can accept, the number of truck trips will be lessened as WM will now be able to commingle dry waste with MSW in the same truck. I feel that this “commingling” of waste is the antithesis of the direction DEC is asking waste removal companies to be going in. My understanding is that we are heading toward “zero” waste, thus requiring the reuse, recycling and reduction of all waste, not the contamination of different types of waste, thus leading to the inability to separate materials for reuse and/or recycling.
I am asking that DEC deny Waste Management’s application (DEC Application ID #4-0101-00185/00002) to expand the types of waste they are allowed to accept at their Port of Albany Material Recycling Facility.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
Common Council Member – First Ward