By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO July 6, 2004 We are in a crisis, said Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Chris Cunningham on Thursday, speaking of the amount of space left at the landfill.
John Kehlenbeck, Director of Solid Waste Management, reported that the county has already taken in 83,692 tons at the landfill. With the summer just beginning and the racino here, county attorneys urged the legislature to raise the tipping fees and prohibit outside haulers from importing garbage, in order to conserve space at the landfill.
Cunningham called on the legislators to make a decision this month. He expects the countys newly hired consultant R.S. Lynch, Inc. to recommend raising the tipping fees.
The legislature was set to raise the fees from $55 a ton for regular waste to $75 a ton. Construction and demolition debris would have shot up to $125 a ton.
That proposal stumbled last month, after local haulers complained about a lack of notice.
Still, Legislator Ron Hiatt said, We need to raise these rates in a hurry.
For now all importation contracts which allowed outside counties and haulers to dump waste, construction and demolition debris at a lower rate have been terminated.
However, County Attorney Sam Yasgur and Deputy County Attorney Cheryl McCausland warned that that does not prohibit the outside haulers from importing waste at the regular rate.
Importation of waste accounts for approximately half of the space at the landfill.
McCausland urged the county to extend its moratorium on granting any new licenses to haulers. There are currently over 100 licensed haulers using the landfill.
Yasgur said that Kehlenbeck needs to turn away trash from all non-county residents. Legislator Leni Binder expressed her concern regarding the legality of such a move. But McCausland said the county had the right, due to its space crisis.
Administrative Law Judge for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Edward Buhrmaster received the transcripts from the issues conference during the second week of June. Sullivan County attorneys are hoping for a decision in the coming weeks as to whether an adjudicative hearing, or civil trial, will be necessary.
County Manager Dan Briggs has previously said that if there is no decision made by July or if a hearing is scheduled, the landfill would have to close next year. He has said there would not be sufficient time to construct Cell 6.
The current landfill is expected to run out of space by early to mid-spring 2005. Yasgur urged the legislature to take the necessary measures to ensure the landfill remains open until the summer of 2005. The towns will need time to develop alternatives, he said.
Furthermore, Yasgur stated that he wants to eliminate the landfills intake of construction and demolition debris. He specifically would like to see access denied to larger developers.
McCausland said the construction and demolition debris is a major source of the space crunch and odor problems.
Kehlenbeck added that he would be demanding proof from building inspectors as to whether the debris is originating in the county or not. McCausland agreed, reminding him that he had a legal right to know where the waste comes from.
On a more positive note, Public Works Committee Chair Kathleen LaBuda announced that she has received calls from people who say the odor problem is now 100 percent better.
And Kehlenbeck said that Malcolm Pirney had completed its testing of the air for several dangerous chemicals and found no violations.
Kehlenbeck also reported that a permanent flare will be installed this fall, in addition to the flares, gas wells and generators already put in. More generators are on the way, he said.