Albany Solid Waste Problem Still Not Addressed Openly

by Tim Truscott


The month of June turned out to have some news related to the City of Albany’s solid waste disposal plans.

It became known that the Mayor had created a Solid Waste Planning Committee which included her office, the landfill manager (Joe Giebelhaus), the Recycling Director (Frank Zeoli), a couple of the mayor’s friends on the Common Council and a representative of the City’s solid waste consultant (Barton & Loguidice).

The committee had been meeting monthly for about six or seven months without reporting back to the Common Council. Council Member Judd Krasher (not a member of this special committee, since he is a frequent critic of the Mayor) requested, in writing, copies of the audio recordings of the meetings, but was denied his request. He was told, in writing, by the City Corporation Counsel, that he was not entitled to this information. It seems odd.

Apparently, in an effort to pacify annoyed Council Members, a Common Council General Services Committee meeting was held on June 29, at which time a few of the committee’s activities were reported.

Much of the meeting was consumed by a detailed description of new recycling collection trucks which the City has ordered for a pilot program. These trucks would require special, large 16-gallon bins which would be compatible with an automated arm to pick up the bins and load the bin contents in the truck. It would have nothing to do with increasing recycling and everything to do with taking people’s jobs away from them.

It was also reported that the Rapp Road landfill would reach capacity and close in about five years. This was not a surprise, as this was predicted since the most recent expansion of the landfill came into use several years ago. But during those intervening years, why weren’t efforts undertaken to extend the life of the landfill by increasing recycling and reducing the amount of organics going into the landfill? In spite of our urging of the mayor, nothing was done. But I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

It was also reported that construction of a solid waste transfer station was discussed, the purpose of which would be to load the city’s garbage onto large tractor trailers and ship it to one of the mega landfills, like Seneca Meadows, in the Waterloo/Seneca Falls area west of Syracuse, or High Acres landfill, near Rochester.

The residents of Waterloo and Seneca Falls don’t want the odor, heavy truck traffic, air pollution and groundwater pollution that comes from Seneca Meadows, just as people in Albany’s South End don’t want the problems associated with the oil trains and the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline.

One possible location mentioned for such a solid waste transfer station was the Port of Albany. Has anyone bothered to ask residents of the South End neighborhood if they want garbage shipped in and out of their neighborhood? Actually, no one should need to ask, simple common sense dictates that this is not a good idea.

The Port of Albany was mentioned again, this time as a potential site for some sort of solid waste treatment facility. Once again, how about the people who live down there?

It looks like this committee didn’t bother to read the 67 pages of comments Save the Pine Bush and Citizens Environmental Coalition members wrote and submitted in November 2010 to the Common Council and the Mayor (when she was City Treasurer) following the publication of the Solid Waste Master Plan. A large part of the comments involved ways to reduce solid waste through recycling. There were also eight or ten pages of comments on the detrimental effects the attempted secrecy of that committee had on moving the solid waste effort forward. If they read the comments, they must have disregarded them.




Published in September/August 2016
Save the Pine Bush Newsletter