by Tom Ellis
RENSSELAER, NY: While participating in a ninety-minute January 16 meeting with four top NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials at their Albany office to discuss worsening problems with the Dunn Landfill at the east end of Partition Street in Rensselaer, I concluded some of DEC’s top brass must suffer from anosmia, an inability to smell.
Residents from across Rensselaer and parts of East Greenbush described in excruciating detail the dump odors, that, over the past eighteen months, have become frequent, persistent, widespread, and often intense and unbearable. Three residents, including a mom and her sixth-grader son, told DEC the dump odors frequently permeate the Rensselaer public school building located next to the dump. The boy no longer plays on the school’s ball fields; he and his mom said many students are frequently ill, probably form the dump.
The DEC men declined to answer the mom’s question about how can she protect her son from the odors which she, herself, has noticed both inside and outside the school building. Nor did they respond to my question: Is it safe for children to attend the school 180 days a year, year after year?
The odors may come from gypsum board disposed of at the construction and demolition debris dump. One DEC official told us DEC has received an increasing number of complaints about odors in recent months. When they receive one, they send someone to investigate, but noticed the odors only once.
It is disturbing but not surprising that DEC allowed a dump to be sited next to a large public school. Either DEC or Governor Cuomo must close the dump. The time is now.
Published in February-March 2019
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