Since 2015, the shadow of the Dunn Landfill has grown larger and larger over the Rensselaer City School District. And so have the concerns from students, parents, and teachers about the odor coming from the dump.
"You have to work around it. Instead of you wanting to go outside for gym, well you can't because it smells too bad," said Andrew Kretzschmar, Rensselaer High School student.
Kretzschmar says this year they could actually smell hydrogen sulfide gas inside the school. He was one of many attending an information session Thursday night hosted by the state DEC and DOH.
"There's no reason for it to be next to a school with children," said Tricia Steck, Rensselaer High School teacher.
Steck teaches English at the high school and came to learn more about how this was even allowed. Steck, like many, wants to see the landfill closed.
"We've taken a lot of comprehensive actions to aggressively oversee this facility, to make sure they're in compliance with our laws and regulations," said Sean Mahar, NYS DEC chief of staff.
Mahar says anytime there is a violation, they are coming down hard on the landfill. He says they've sent them a letter with things they need to comply with due to repeated issues.
"If they can't do that, we're prepared to take the next step," Mahar said.
The DEC and the DOH say the outdoor air monitoring tests have shown there's nothing posing significant long term health risks, but some people have complained of throat irritation, headaches, and difficult breathing. State officials say they're aware of these concerns.
"It's more of an interruption, I think, than it is a lasting health concern, but we're reviewing everything we have," said Gary Holmes, NYS DOH spokesman.
Many want to see air monitoring done inside the schools as well. State officials say they're willing to work with the district with any next steps they want. Those living and attending school near the landfill say the next step should be shutting it down.
"No matter what you do, you're always going to have a smell. No matter how many monitoring systems they put in," Kretzschmar said.
The current DEC permit to operate runs through 2022. The Dunn Landfill does have a 24-hour hotline to report any odor concerns at (518) 292-0449.