MAYVILLE – The expansion effort of the Chautauqua County Landfill will take center stage for the Chautauqua County Legislature during it’s November meetings.
- Approving the SEQR Findings Statement for Phase IV of the Landfill Expansion (PDF);
- Authorizing the borrowing of $18,000,000 to pay for the cost of the landfill expansion;
- Authorizing the purchase of 20 acres of property adjacent to the landfill at a cost of $40,000.
The county is seeking the state’s permission to expand the landfill by 53 acres. The completion and filing of the SEQR is part of the process, with the State Department of Environmental Conservation required to review the study prior to granting approval. In addition to the SEQRA document, the DEC also allowed for public comment on the project earlier this year.
WEIGHING THE PROS & CONS
According to county officials, the expansion is needed to extend the life of the landfill by 20 years. Under the request, the county also says there is no plan to increase the amount of daily waste coming in, with the limit remaining the same at 1,883 tons per day.
County officials have said that the expansion will help to continue the landfill’s long-term viability as not only a revenue generator for the county, but also to help to keep local waste disposal costs down. The county makes money off the landfill by not only accepting trash from residents, but also construction and industrial waste from both local and out-of-state businesses. In addition, the county is able to convert methane generated at the landfill into electricity, selling that energy to the grid to create another revenue stream.
Not everyone is in support of the expansion project. The town of Ellery has come out against the expansion, citing several environmental concerns including surface and groundwater contamination, runoff and erosion affecting nearby waters and wetlands, noise and odor impacts, and changes to the surrounding natural landscape.
Other opponents of the project have also voiced concern that the landfill expansion could open the door for the county to seek permission to allow for accepting hazardous and/or radioactive waste – including out-of-state fracking waste. They also cite a recent report by the Environmental Advocates of New York (EANY) claiming New York doesn’t have a strict system in place for tracking industrial waste coming into the state, with some of it containing hazardous waste from fracking operations. The fear is that should the county expansion take place, it could increase the chances for that fracking waste to make its way into the landfill and, as a result, the local watersheds.
County Landfill director Pantelis Panteli has said that the landfill has never accepted fracking waste and New York has strict environmental regulations in place banning hazardous waste from entering the landfill (although that is heavily refuted by the EANY report). He also said the county is required to monitor and test all incoming industrial waste to ensure it is not hazardous.
The legislature’s Public Facilities Committee will meet at 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9 in Room 331 of the Gerace Office Building to further discuss and act on the resolutions. They will also go before the full legislature for its consideration during its November voting session at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18.
The meeting is open to the public and will provide a privilege of the floor for anyone wishing to speak on any of the items on the agenda, including the landfill expansion.