by Christine Kielb
Tom Ellis and Christine Kielb of Stop Trucks Assaulting Rensselaer (STAR), a group of Rensselaer residents and their allies, are continuing their work fighting the tractor trailer truck traffic passing through city neighborhoods to and from the Dunn Construction and Demolition (C&D) landfill. This landfill operation, larger than the Colonie and Albany landfills combined, is expected to continue for many years, possibly until 2036, unless successfully challenged. The problem began in 2012 when the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation approved a plan to allow the operation of the landfill to fill in the cavities created by an old gravel mining operation.
Each weekday, from 6:30 am to 4:00 pm, up to 100 large tractor trailer trucks arrive off the Dunn Memorial Bridge onto Broadway Street in the City of Rensselaer. These trucks, coming from all over the Northeast, run through the middle of the city to the landfill situated at the top of the hill to the east. The noise, diesel exhaust, dust and vibration from these trucks ruin the quality of life for the residents on Broadway and Partition Streets. They are also a public safety threat, causing traffic congestion for residents and train commuters and passing by schoolchildren waiting for the bus. Two rollovers have already occurred: one on the approach to the Dunn Memorial Bridge, and one on the approach to I787 from US 90 westbound. This constant truck traffic is also out of character with the future vision for the city as stated in its Comprehensive Plan.
A number of encouraging developments have occurred since this problem was described in the April and June SPB newsletters. Our alliance with the Hudson Mohawk Chapter of the Sierra Club is bearing fruit. The Sierra Club has retained environmental lawyer John Barone to review the DEC permit and other documents and we expect to meet with him soon. Affected residents and their allies were also invited to the annual Sierra Club fundraising dinner in September educate the membership about the problem, and were invited by an dinner attendee to post announcements in News from the Neighborhood, a local weekly grassroots newsletter.
The Dunn Landfill and associated trucks continue to receive negative press. Both the landfill operator and numerous trucks were recently cited for violations. In late August, DEC cited the Dunn Landfill for violations related to truck routes, massive dirt dumping, dust clouds and runoff. They were ordered to pay $50,000 in fines and spend $225,000 on projects to help the nearby public school and community. On September 13 and 14, NYS police pulled over 36 trucks and cited them for over 170 violations, including 29 violations for being overweight. Overweight trucks are a public safety hazard as they cause undue wear and tear on the braking system and excess damage to the roadways. Brian Nearing of the Times Union and CBS 6 News covered these and other related events.
STAR is continuing to collect data on the trucks and landfill. A second day- long truck census was completed on May 31, and we met with a noise assessment expert to assess the possibility of conducting a survey in residential areas on the truck route. Most recently, because of the many reports of noxious odors in Rensselaer neighborhoods near the landfill, an odor survey has been distributed to interested residents.
The Facebook page Stop Trucks Assaulting Rensselaer (STAR) contains the many newspaper articles and TV news programs covering the landfill, as well as photos, videos and commentary. Please consider joining.
Published in September-October 2018 Save the Pine Bush Newsletter