There’s a solution to Albany’s garbage problem — the same one for the better part of the last 20 years — but most city officials don’t want to hear it, and despite a few protestations, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has remained sympathetic. The reason is money, which is understandable as far as the city is concerned, but not so the DEC.
The city makes a ton of money from its landfill, $13 million a year accepting trash from municipalities around the region and from private haulers as far away as Texas. That’s why its Rapp Road landfill keeps filling up — and why it keeps applying to DEC for permission to expand, as it is currently doing. But to the hundreds of neighbors who packed a DEC public hearing Wednesday night, and to others in the region concerned about environmental quality, enough is enough. It ought to be for DEC, too.
This would be the fourth expansion at the landfill in 20 years — nearly 14 additional acres that would extend the landfill’s life for seven more years. Never mind that the city has already promised DEC twice in the past “no mas” — that it wouldn’t ask for further expansions and would deal with its trash problem the way other municipalities have. But it can’t break its addiction to imported trash.
Aside from offending neighbors with the sights and smells of a garbage operation, the landfill is situated in the middle of the Pine Bush, habitat for the rare Karner blue butterfly. These two concerns are all that should matter to the DEC — not that having to send its trash elsewhere would be financially difficult for the city. Other cities (like Schenectady) have to ship their garbage elsewhere because their landfills reached capacity and had to be capped. Why should Albany continually merit special consideration?