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Rensselaer County Legislature To Consider Landfill Moratorium

Rensselaer County

The Rensselaer County Legislature is set to vote tonight on a Solid Waste Moratorium that would impact communities along the Hudson River.

In June, environmental activists and concerned citizens gathered on the banks of the Hudson in the city of the Rensselaer protesting the dumping of waste in the city. Rensselaer County Legislature Chairman Mike Stammel, a Republican running for mayor against Democratic incumbent Richard Mooney, announced his proposed law that would place a one-year moratorium on any new solid waste permits within a mile of the Hudson anywhere in the county.     "We don't wanna be known especially here in the city of Rensselaer as a dump city because there's a dump at one end of the city and a dump they wanna put down the other end of the city," Stammel said.

David Ellis is with the Rensselaer Environmental Coalition. He lives less than a mile from the proposed BioHiTech facility.  "Since residents are already experiencing the harsh impacts of the Dunn Landfill, this type of local law would prevent facilities like BioHiTech from coming to our city and developing along the Hudson River. And this is very important because all of the waste in that facility would be located near what previously had been a 100-year flood plain, and people are concerned about the potential impact on the Hudson River if that area flooded, and uh, you know the Hudson River flows both ways and we're concerned that if any waste leached into the river it would be sloshing around out there in the river for quite a long period of time, and most of these facilities impact a three-mile radius. So it's very concerning for the entire public, the entire city of Rensselaer, and even Albany, that this facility and other facilities like that could have huge impacts on our waterways."

Stammel says the Solid Waste Management Facilities Law was written to protect the Hudson along with public health, public safety and the environment in Rensselaer County. "Recently in the city of Rensselaer they approved the Dunn Dump, which has been fined by DEC for tears in their liner and the material from that leaching, the runoff from that leaching into the ground, which goes into tributaries, which end up in the Hudson River. Other facilities, they have a biotech plant that they wanna do in the Port of Rensselaer - this I don't think is a good idea either, because it's at least 500 yards off the Hudson River and they're digging into a known DEC dumpsite."

Mayor Mooney notes the BioHiTech facility was approved before he became mayor.    "Some residents that live down by that facility have reached out to my office with concerns, so we're just asking, I'm just asking that the planning commission just take a step back, keep reviewing it, I also reached out to DEC and requested they do a thorough review of this project, just to make sure we're all safe and sound and on the same page."

Stammel believes nearly all of the 19 legislators will vote tonight in favor of the moratorium. He says the six Democrats on the panel are all from the city of Troy, and given their interest in the Hudson, will likely vote “yes,” with an amendment they propose likely to follow next month.

The legislature will be in session at 6 p.m. in the Rensselaer County Legislative Chambers on the third floor of the Rensselaer County Government Center , 1600 Seventh Avenue, Troy.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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