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As DEC approves step toward landfill expansion, town supervisors voice concerns about pollution

March 22, 2018 12:20 PM

Before the Colonie landfill gets the green light on an expansion project, two town supervisors want to make sure it's not polluting the water.

The Towns of Waterford and Halfmoon and environmental advocacy group Riverkeeper collected samples from the Mohawk River recently. They said a chemical called PFOA was found in them. 

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"This stuff has been here for years the only way it surfaced is because technology today has brought to the surface and now people become alarmed,” one local resident said. “We lived with it for years and years.”

Others are more concerned about the potential impact. The town supervisors want a hearing with the DEC to discuss their findings.

"We do believe that there are definite issues, environmental issues that will have legal ramifications, and we're going to pursue those,” Town of Halfmoon Supervisor Kevin Tollisen said.

A Department of Environmental Conservation spokesperson said Cornell University's Environmental Chemistry Lab, the location where the PFOA positive samples were tested, is not certified by the state.

On Wednesday the DEC accepted the environmental impact statement for the proposed expansion of the Town of Colonie Landfill.

"It's not very citizen welcoming around here,” Halfmoon resident Nick Dennis said. “I don't feel as though it's a great idea for them to do that. I feel it's plenty big enough and the smell of it's just not very pleasant at all."

The DEC did scale back the size of the initial expansion proposed. The facility now must have a third party monitor on staff to oversee operations, it must be set back 500 feet from the river, and the maximum landfill height is 50 feet lower than proposed.

“It has to go somewhere,” one local resident said. “Someone has to sit down and there has to be compromise for everybody, for everybody concerned."

"Trash does have to go somewhere, but there are clean energy alternatives there are alternatives to just continue dumping in a landfill," Tollisen said.

A DEC spokesperson said the results of the Cornell testing will have to go through a validation process before they're accepted. Waterford and Halfmoon residents get their drinking water from Troy. The DEC found no impacts on the Cohoes drinking water, which does come from the Mohawk. 

The department now has 10 days to deny or approve the permit for the Colonie landfill expansion. The landfill website says expanding the facility will increase the lifespan by 20 years.

Credits

Emily Burkhard

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