The Seneca Falls Environmental Action Committee (SFEAC) has stepped up, opposing landfill expansion at the Seneca Meadows Landfill along State Route 414.?
The Seneca Falls Town Board also approved a resolution asking the Department of Environmental Conservation to deny Seneca Meadows its permit to expand. The vote fell along party lines with Republicans Mike Ferrara and Dawn Dyson voting against it, as Democrats David DeLelys, Doug Avery, and Steve Churchill voted in favor. Ferrara leads the town board as Seneca Falls town supervisor.
“You don’t know what can change between now and then,” Ferrara said, explaining his thought process on the vote. “I want the people of Seneca Falls to be informed about the impact of closure on the community. Mainly we need people to understand the financial impact.”?
The SFEAC had harsh words for the expansion, which followed Democrats’ criticism of the expansion permit in December. “Not only would the 50-acre expansion allow Seneca Meadows to operate for an additional 15 years, but it would also allow 6,000 tons of garbage a day to continue until 2040.This proposed expansion is in direct violation of Local Law 3 of 2016, which prohibits solid waste facilities in Seneca Falls from operating beyond 2025,” SFEAC said. “Seneca Meadows is currently in violation of its Host Community Agreement and Seneca Falls Town Code. Seneca Meadows continues to pollute our air and compromise the health of our community. Despite its attempts to mitigate odors, landfill gas continues to pervade our community. In the last year, area homes, businesses, and schools have been negatively impacted by landfill gas and odors. If an expansion permit is granted, this will likely continue for years to come. We cannot let this happen.”
Officials with Seneca Meadows contend that expansion would be safe. “This application for the ‘The Valley Infill’ meets or exceeds all of the numerous, and very stringent, Federal and State environmental regulations,” SMI’s Kyle Black said at the time. “We look forward to partnering with NYSDEC to ensure we meet or exceed the expectations of all of our stakeholders. Continuing the landfill in this manner without increasing the footprint, and while minimizing the operational area, will allow SMI to continue essential operations in the most environmentally conscious and safest manner.”
However, it would give the landfill an extra 15 years of operating space, which is why Supervisor Ferrara is skeptical about the idea that the company will just “go away” after Local Law #3 mandates they close. “They have been operating without a town permit for 13 months, and the legal fees associated with this closure will bankrupt the town,” he said, adding that it is likely that the company could simply refuse to walk away in 2025. There have also been questions about whether New York State would mandate continued operation of the facility, which is among the largest in the state, but already an active operator.