by Tom Ellis
ALBANY& RENSSELAER, NY: In early March, the mayor of Cohoes called for the end to Norlite’s hazardous waste incineration in the city. He acknowledged Norlite can continue operating its cement business without burning poisonous wastes. Profits would decrease because Norlite would have to purchase and pay for fuel rather than being paid to take it. An end to hazardous waste burning would be a relief to Cohoes and Troy residents.
DEC, which has been obsessed for decades with allowing Norlite to burn hazardous wastes regardless of consequences, might have to develop a new regulatory plan for hazardous waste.
Down the Hudson River a few miles, in mid-March, Rensselaer and East Greenbush (R&EG) residents persuaded boh the Questar III BOCES board and the Rensselaer City School District (RCSD) leaders to send letters calling on DEC to deny a permit sought by Waste Connections to relicense its seven-year-old Dunn construction and demolition debris and who-knows-what-else dump located right next to the RCSD campus, a cemetery, and in between Rensselaer and East Greenbush residential neighborhoods.
QUESTAR educates students from Rensselaer, Greene, and Columbia counties in the RCSD building. Classrooms for the BOCES students are located closest to the dump of all campus classrooms.
The RCSD letter is signed by the district superintendent, all five board members, and the presidents of the CSEA local, teachers union, and PTA,. This is an about-face for many of these people.
QUESTAR and RCSD join the East Greenbush Town Board, Rensselaer City Council, and Rensselaer County Legislature, who have all unanimously approved resolutions calling for a closure of the dump.
R&EG residents, many working with the Rensselaer Environmental Coalition (REC), are intensifying efforts to convince Assemblyman John McDonald and state Senator Neil Breslin to demand dump closure. Assemblyman McDonald insists he favors finding some way to eliminate problems R&EG residents experience form the dump and its associated dump traffic. This is interpreted as also finding some way to keep the dump operating long term. Senator Breslin has said almost nothing about the dump over the years. Many R&EG residents believe that if and when McDonald and Breslin demand closure of the dump, located in their districts, other state legislators will do likewise, greatly increasing pressure to force closure.
More than two years ago, US Representative Paul Tonko signed a petition calling for the immediate and permanent closure of the Dunn dump.