Jim Travers, a resident of Coeymans, NY, attended
the February 15 Save the Pine Bush dinner and heard Jack Lauber
speak about Waste-to-Energy. These are Jim Travers' comments.
Please forward this email to all those on the Save
The Pine Bush mail list. Feedback is welcomed. Thanks. Jim
I do not think incineration of garbage
is healthy for anyone or our environment, whether it is used
to create electricity or only to eliminate a portion of the solid
“Incinerators have one important feature in common with
nuclear power plants: they produce pollution that didn't exist
before the plant was switched on.” (1)
Jack Lauber, an environmental engineer and a former DEC official,
spoke at the Save the Pine Bush dinner which was held at the
First Presbyterian Church in Albany on February 15th. Mr. Lauber
is, far by, the greatest promoter of incineration of solid waste
in this area. After the dinner I asked him, p! rivately, if he
either worked for or was paid by the incineration industry. He
replied “Well…, most of my funding, aside my pension,
comes from Columbia” (University). When I pressed him further,
he replied, “well…, indirectly“.
The cost to construct a one thousand tons per
day (TPD) “state
of the art” incinerator was put at between 150 to 200 million
dollars by a former DEC engineer who accompanied Mr. Lauber.
I believe the cost must be nearly double that figure today, based
upon the 180 million dollars it cost to build Syracuse’s
990 TPD incinerator, which went online in 1994, and it might
be even more if you calculate in the long-term financing and
bonding costs. The Wall Street Journal reported in article that
appeared on its front page in its August 11, 1993 issue that
incinerators for municipal trash are financial disasters for
local government. (2) Even though this article was written more
than a decade ago, the facts reported in the article still ring
According to the City’s press release issued on January
20, 2006, tipping fees at a typical waste to energy incinerator
are three to four times higher than those charged by permitted
landfills and you’ll still need a landfill for the ash.
Although Mr. Lauber claims that the “state of the art” technology
used in today's incinerators is clean and relatively non-polluting,
I disagree with him for several reasons, some of which are based
upon the actions taken by the incinerator's operators who, like
most involved in profit driven industry, continually seek to
lowe! r their bottom line.
The simplest way they achieve this cost cutting
is usually by reducing the costly frequent maintenance necessary
to keep their plants "state of the art". This makes a well designed
plant emit much more pollution then it would otherwise.
Part of the basis from which I draw my conclusion
that incineration in unhealthy can be found in a document published
by Dr. Paul Connett, Professor of Chemistry at St. Lawrence University,
Waste Incineration: A Poor Solution For The Twenty First Century",
which he delivered to an audience attending a waste to energy
conference held in Amsterdam, Holland, in November 1998. This
PDF document is my first attachment to this email.
I believe Jack Lauber is sincere in his belief
that incineration is the best way to deal with the solid waste
issue, though it does not address the issue of reducing municipal
or other solid ! waste.
As long as there's money to be made from either landfilling or
incineration of solid waste, there will be no effort to reduce
this source of revenue by those who profit from it.
Mr. Lauber touts the incinerators in Japan as
being the most efficient in the world for reducing toxic emissions,
but scientists and the residents living near those plants would
disagree. (4) He also lauded praises upon the waste to energy
incinerator located in East Syracuse, New York as another fine
example of a clean burning state of the art incinerator. However,
one of Mr. Lauber’s
old friends at DEC, NY State Wildlife Pathologist Dr. Ward Stone,
would disagree with him. Dr. Stone’s reporting that the
ash coming from this incinerator contained toxic heavy metals
nearly cost him his job. (5) Obviously, the lobby advocating
Dr. Stone’s removal didn’t want the dirty truth made
Long Island’s North Shore is known to many
as the setting of Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby”, an area that
is still today home to many of our wealthiest citizens. Here,
at the head of Hempstead Harbor is located the quaint Village
of Roslyn that was founded by my ancestors in the mid-1600s.
I fondly remember the stories told to me by my grandfather when
I was a child while we were on his small boat fishing for flounder
and stripers in Hempstead Harbor. Some he told were of the great
speedboat races he took part in there when he was a younger man.
Sadly, I was the last of many generations to have enjoyed the
natural beauty and bounty once offered by these fine waters.
It was here also, just across Roslyn’s boundary line in
Port Washington, that in the early 1960s the Town of North Hempstead
decided to site their landfill on west shore of Hempstead Harbor.
By 1970 the landfill was as high as a ten storey building and
was encroaching the harbor. The landfill was exp! anded many
times over the years and has resulted in disastrous consequences.
In summer of 1989 it was found that Hempstead Harbor had no oxygen
in it and was devoid of marine life. The former landfill is now
a Superfund site. The landfill sits where there once was water
where my grandfather raced speedboats.
In 1986 the Town of North Hempstead proposed building
a 990 TPD incinerator and decided to site it and its ash landfill
on the old landfill. DEC offered four million dollars from the
1972 Environmental Quality Bond Act to subsidize the incinerators
construction cost. Twenty-one groups were granted intervener
status by DEC and all opposed the incinerator. In 1988 two of
the groups released a report prepared by Sound Resources Management
Group of Seattle, Washington, which showed that recycling and
composting would be cheaper and divert more from the waste stream
than the proposed incinerator. The report stated that by adopting
a non-incineration plan the town could reduce the amount going
to landfill by 70% at a cost which would save the town $110 million
in capital and finance charges. (6)
After spending millions of dollars trying to get approval for
its construction, in August of 1990 the Town abandoned their
efforts to build the incinerator and signed onto a non-incinerator
plan that included a materials recover facility, bulky waste
recycling, yard waste composting and food waste composting. The
intensely offensive odor emanating from the landfill, which permeates
a seven mile radius, may never go away, though.
Every citizen and all municipalities who are truly
concerned with reducing the enormous quantity of solid waste
that we all contribute to should aggressively practice the three
Rs. The three Rs are: Reduce, Recycle and Reuse (waste). Two
important recycling studies were completed by Dr. Barry Commoner,
Director of the Center for the Biology of Natural ! Systems at
Queens College in Flushing, N.Y. (The mere mention of Dr. Commoner
by an audience member attending the Save the Pine Bush dinner
visibly made Mr. Lauber cringe and moan, as if pained by the
sound of the father of the environmental movement’s name.)
One study was completed for the Town of East Hampton, L.I., N.Y.,
and the other was for the City of Buffalo, N.Y. Both studies
showed that when communities engage in aggressive recycling programs,
the results in savings and of waste stream reduction are profound. “In
fact, the East Hampton study showed that ordinary people, using
existing technology could recycle 84% of their trash. The East
Hampton study also showed that recycling is 35% cheaper than
incineration.” (1) “In the case of Buffalo, the local
economy would receive $12 million more per year from a recycling
program than it would from an incinerator, even though the total
cost of the recycling program would be less than the total cost
of incineration.” (1)
Lafarge's Ravena cement plant is seeking a modification
to their Title V air quality permit from DEC to allow them to
burn approximately five million whole tires a year in their kilns
in order to reduce their fuel costs by 15%. This appears to be
the first step they've taken towards reaching their true goal,
which, I believe, is to eventually burn garbage. Burning garbage
will allow them to achieve an even greater fuel cost savings
than that afforded by TDF. (Tire Derived Fuel)
This is another reason why, aside the obvious
environmental issues raised by sighting a landfill in a floodplain
a half mile from the Hudson River, on wetlands alongside the
trout-spawning Onesquethaw/Coeymans Creek, I am strongly opposed
to Albany's proposed Coeymans landfill. If Albany is successful,
it will be located on land adjacent to Lafarge's Ravena cement
Very tempting and much too close to this inexpensive
and potentially unending "fuel" source for my comfort.
Please refer to my second
attachment. It is an
article from an industry newspaper, Solid Waste and Recycling,
first published in November 2005 and entitled "Ontario cement plant to burn
tires, garbage". The solid waste industry always comes up
with catchy phrases like “Waste to Energy” or “Refuse
Derived Fuel” (RDF) to make the burning of garbage derived
fuel sound more appealing. I wonder why they didn’t choose
to use GDF to describe it?
Camille Cagnon of Lafarge's Ravena cement plant
announced at a DEC public hearing last August that Albany is
waste cement kiln dust (CKD) as a ground cover at the Rapp Road
landfill. This, in part, is collected from what they call the "Bag
Room". The bag room is where all of the accumulated waste
attracted by their electrostatic precipitators is periodically
collected and then landf! illed onsite. Electrostatic Precipitators
are pollution control devices that attract a portion of the toxic
chemicals contained in the kilns’ exhaust gases as they
travel up the plant's smokestack before escaping into the atmosphere.
Dioxins are a family of more than 200 toxic chemicals. Some are
so dangerous to human health that there is virtually no safe
exposure level for humans. Exposure to dioxins is measured in
picograms - Trillionths of a gram.
(28 grams equal one ounce.)
One picogram = 1 / 1,000,000,000,000g
According to the EPA, as reported to them by Lafarge, the annual
output of the CKD material currently being landfilled on Lafarge's
property contains more than ten tons of lead compounds and eleven
pounds of mercury compounds. (7), (8), (9)
Dioxins are produced by the heating of some materials used in
manufacturing cement. Aside from those that escape into the atmosphere,
where do ! the dioxins and other toxic chemicals that are captured
by the electrostatic precipitators go?
They go into the Cement Kiln Dust.
While it may not be known to many, the City of
Albany has recently spent nearly seven million dollars in order
to utilize the shallow aquifer under the Pine Bush as an emergency
water supply in case of a catastrophic failure to their established
water supply system. (10) Albany’s daily water supply is drawn from the Alcove
Reservoir which is located in the Town of Coeymans, the very
same town in which they want to site their mega-dump.
It makes little sense to me that Albany’s
Rapp Road landfill was located atop a shallow aquifer to begin
with and it seems that now Albany may be increasing the chances
of poisoning their emergency water supply by utilizing CKD as
a ground cover at the Rapp Road landfill. Why, you may ask, is
Albany using polluted CKD for a ground cover instead of clean
Because it’s cheaper than dirt.
Albany should cease and desist from this unhealthy
“According to EPA, the major sources of dioxins in 1995
were municipal garbage incinerators (1100 grams, 36% of the national
total); medical waste incinerators (477 grams, 16%); cement kilns
burning hazardous waste (153 grams, 5%)…” (11)
My third attachment is entitled "Electrostatic
Precipitators Breed Dioxins" and was published by Waste Not. I think the
title of this paper speaks for itself, but please read it if
you feel as Jack Lauber does, that incineration is a good way
to deal with the solid waste we all produce.
If you need more convincing evidence that incinerators
are financial disasters, please read about the troubled nearby
Hudson Falls incinerator. (12)
The fourth and last document I've attached is
Heat Than Light", which was published in July 2005 and was
co-authored by Environmental Advocates of New York. Although
it deals with power plants in the northeast whose primary fuel
source is coal and not solid waste, it does contain information
relevant to the issue of how stack emissions contribute to pollution
and Global Warming.
Waste Not, a publication of Work on Waste ceased
publication in 2000, but their library is still available online.
Please be sure to check out their newsletters, most of which
deal with incineration.
More excellent information on recycling can be
found at the Zero Waste America, an online resource with many
references for citizens and governments dealing with solid waste.
One of the best papers dealing with landfill issues
read that doesn’t use difficult to understand scientific
terminology is entitled “Environmental Impacts of Alternative
Approaches for Municipal Solid Waste Management: An Overview” and
was authored by Dr. G. Fred Lee, et al. (15) Dr. Lee’s
website has more information on landfills and the three Rs. (16) G. Fred Lee and Associates work is internationally recognized.
My first footnote refers you to an issue of Environmental Research
Foundation’s publication, Rachel’s Democracy and
Health News. The Environmental Research Foundation was founded
in 1980 by Dr. Peter Montague and remains one best sources for
environmental pollution. Dr. Montague and his foundation’s
work are well known internationally. I always try to save the
best for last! I have provided a link to the index for Rachel’s
Back issues. (17) You will find after my last footnote links
to several articles I recommend you read from Rachel’s
I have provided you with many resources, perhaps
too many, but plea! se find the time to look at this information.
win any environmental battles unless we’re well armed with
facts. I hope this helps you come to the same conclusions I have
regarding incineration, and that Albany’s continued dumping
of garbage in the sensitive Pine Bush is probably creating a
Superfund site there, and that Albany’s chosen location
in Coeymans is an inappropriate site for a landfill.
(1) - Rachel’s Democracy and Health News - (Formerly Rachel’s
Environment and Health News) - A publication of the Environmental
#121- ‘Incineration vs. Recycling‘, March 21,
The East Hampton Study:
Rachel’s Democracy and Health News Issue #108 - ‘Recycling
Breakthrough Reported‘, December 19, 1988:
(2) - Rachel’s Democracy and Health News Issue # 351 - ‘'Wall
Street Journal' Warns Its Readers: Incinerators Are Financial
Disasters“, August 19, 1993
(3) - City
of Albany Information Bulletin 1/20/06 Rapp Road Landfill Expansion
(4) - Work on Waste, Inc.,
Waste Not issue #386 - ‘In
Japan's Burnt Trash, Dioxin Threat’:
(5) - Waste Not Issue #318 - ‘The Great Incinerator Ash
Scam - Part 4‘:
(6) - Waste Not Issue #126 - ‘North
Hempstead, L.I., New York. Proposed 990 TPD Incinerator Defeated’
(7) - Science News Article,
Make Mercury More Toxic'
(8) - EPA’s Envirofacts page for Lafarge Ravena:
Environmental Defense Fund’s Chemical Scorecard page
for Lafarge Ravena
(9) - Rachel’s Democracy and Health News,
Issue #314 - ‘Cement
And Kiln Dust Contain Dioxins’, December 2, 1992:
(10) - The
water level reached its lowest point in 2002, only 12 feet below
the ground surface. It is currently at its high
point of 5.5 feet below the ground surface. The test well is
located on the SUNY Campus by Fuller Road.
(11) - Rachel’s Democracy and Health News, Issue #636 - ‘Dioxins
-- The View From Europe‘, February 04, 1999:
(12) - Work On Waste USA, Inc., Waste Not issue #194 - ‘Incinerators
In Trouble: Part 3’
(13) - Back
issue index for Work On Waste USA, Inc. Waste Not:
(14) - http://www.zerowasteamerica.org/
(15) - “Environmental
Impacts of Alternative Approaches for Municipal Solid Waste Management:
An Overview“, By
G. Fred Lee, et al.
- G. Fred
Lee & Associates, List of online articles
(17) - Environmental
Research Foundation’s Index of Rachel’s
# 37 - EPA
Says All Landfills Leak, Even Those Using Best Available
Liners, August 10
#116 - Analyzing
Why All Landfills Leak, February 14, 1989
#117 - The Best Landfill Liner: HDPE, February 21, 1989
#119 - Leachate Collection Systems: The
Achilles' Heel Of Landfills, March 07, 1989
#125 - Clay Landfill Liners Leak In Ways That Surprise Landfill
Designers, April 18, 1989
#226 - Toxic
Gases Emitted From Landfills, March 27, 1991
#316 - New
Evidence That All Landfills Leak, December 16, 1992
#617 - Landfills Are Dangerous, September 24, 1998
#131 - Fine
Particles -- Part 1: The Dangers Of Incineration, May 30, 1989
#192 - Incinerator
Ash -- Part 4: Dump Now, Let The Children Pay Later, August
#162 - Fine
Particles -- Part 5: Incineration Worsens Landfill Hazards, January
#787 - Land Use and Precaution, March 18, 2004
Welcome To Coeymans!
(Photos to be posted soon)
Albany's View of Coeymans Future
This is what all travelers along the NYS Thruway, Rt 9W, and
Rt 144 may be viewing as they are approaching or leaving Albany.
It would be! visable from many miles away.
You can only imagine the stench.
Below is what all boaters on the Hudson River as well as
all travelers along the East side of the river may be viewing.
Please, Albany, don't let this happen to Coeymans!
Photos: Compliments of Zero Waste America
The first photo is of the G.R.O.W.S. landfill, located in a floodplain
alongside the Delaware River in Falls Township, Bucks County,
The second photo is the Tullytown Landfill, and is also located
in a floodplain alongside the Delaware River in Falls Township,
Bucks County, Pa.
These two landfills are located
very close to each other and are
seperated only by a small body of water, which grows smaller
every day. Waste Management Technologies, WMX, owns 6,000 acres
of land here.
This is not what anyone with a conscience wants to see happen
to Coeymans alongside the Hudson River.
Will this be the legacy of Albany's Common Council?