by Tom Ellis
In 2005, SPB joined forces with the Citizens Environmental Coalition (CEC) and Selkirk-Ravena-Coeymans Against Pollution (SCRAP) to successfully block the siting of a large regional landfill by the city of Albany on a 363-acre parcel Albany now owns in the town of Coeymans (ten miles south of Albany). Now a new struggle is unfolding.
Coeymans has a law that bans solid waste imports into the town; it was enacted in 1995 after it became clear the city of Albany was serious in its intent to site a large regional landfill on the 363-acre parcel. An area man operates scrap metal and construction and demolition debris sorting businesses at the Port of Coeymans that he owns. Some town residents believe both businesses are in violation of town law banning waste imports. He wants town law changed so he can run an unspecified solid waste business. No application has been filed so details of what he wants to do are unclear.
Coeymans residents are divided with some favoring the jobs and tax revenues the expanded business would provide while others say town residents have gained few jobs that are low-paying and taxes received are too little. They also fear allowing a large industrial operation would be noisy, pollute the air, lower property values, wreck the roads, endanger children, reduce quality of life, and could open the door for a large- or giant-sized trash incinerator on the Albany-owned parcel.
In late 2008, Albany Mayor Jennings appointed a committee to work with the city’s solid waste consultants, Clough Harbour and Associates (CHA), to supposedly develop a long range solid waste plan for the city and the other municipalities that dump trash in Albany’s Rapp Road Landfill. CEC and Save the Pine Bush, closely monitored the committee’s work. The first draft of the CHA report – in December 2009 – called for creation of a large regional solid waste authority and an unspecified type of disposal facility with a 1500 tons per day capacity, large enough to meet the disposal needs of 700,000 people. CEC and SPB strongly oppose creation of a waste authority and urge a massive commitment to reduction, composting, reuse, recycling, education, and enforcement by the city and its solid waste partners. The Albany Common Council adopted the CHA report and forwarded it to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) eighteen months ago. Rumor has it that DEC is too understaffed to analyze the report.
Mayor Jennings has spoken several times in recent years of his desire to site large trash disposal facility. Amending Coeymans town law to allow solid waste imports would be a colossal error that would likely be interpreted by Mayor Jennings and his trash consultants as a welcome gesture for Albany to propose a large- or giant-sized disposal facility. Retaining Coeymans solid waste importation ban helps assure that no regional trash incinerator is sited locally and that Coeymans will not become the trash disposal capital of the Capital Region and beyond.
Published in August/September, 2012 Save the Pine Bush Newsletter