There has been a major development in the fight over a Finger Lakes landfill.
On Wednesday, the Seneca Falls Town Board voted to table a hosting agreement from Texas-based waste management company Waste Connections. The agreement would add 70 feet in height and 47 acres of new landfill liner in a valley between two already existing slopes of the Seneca Meadows Landfill.
Seneca Meadows is already the largest landfill in New York state. The Department of Environmental Conservation's permit for it to operate ends in 2025. Waste Connections has applied for a renewal through 2040, which includes the proposed expansion.
The town board says it will also study a reported lung cancer cluster in the vicinity of the Seneca Meadows Landfill.
“Last night, Seneca Falls stood up against dirty political dealings in favor of preserving our environment, our health, and the distinct character that makes our town and our region so special,” said Yvonne Taylor, co-founder and vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian. “Millions of dollars can’t undo the damage the Seneca Meadows landfill has inflicted on the Finger Lakes and our community. I’m proud that the town board heeded the community’s concerns around Waste Connections’ host community agreement and demanded action in response to high lung cancer rates near New York state’s largest landfill. It’s time to close the dump once and for all.”
Landfill district manager Kyle Black says his team follows strict regulations set forth by the DEC.
“The environmental monitoring, those requirements are met every day, every month, every quarter, every year,” said Black in a previous interview with Spectrum News 1. “Transparency has always been that way. Seneca Meadows, you can see us for miles. That's about as transparent as it gets.”
Proponents of the landfill expansion argue it will provide a boost to the community with Waste Connections offering $173 million as part of the host agreement. They also point to charitable contributions and the millions of dollars in host fees that have already been paid to the towns each year.
The landfill employs about 100 people and Seneca Meadows officials say it’s responsible for generating about $72 million for the local economy annually.
Just a small percentage of the trash buried in the landfill is local. Large trucks haul tons of trash to the dump each day. About a third of it comes from New York City.