By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO July 23, 2004 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Administrative Law Judge Edward Buhrmaster this week sided with the government of Sullivan County on all issues regarding its application for Cell 6 at the Sullivan County Landfill.
However, Buhrmaster called on the county to submit an odor and litter control plan before he issues a permit for construction of Cell 6.
However, members of SPECS, the Association of Supervisors, the Town of Thompson and Village of Monticello will reportedly be allowed to challenge the rulings.
The added conditions have complicated the countys timetable for constructing Cell 6. The landfill took in over 80,000 tons of waste before the summer season began and the racino opened. That has left the landfill in a major space crunch.
Legislature Chairman Chris Cunningham and other county officials have called the landfills space issue a crisis.
Even now, county officials could not commit as to whether they indeed have enough time to build Cell 6.
County Manager Dan Briggs said he was still waiting on reports from the countys various consultants on whether there would be sufficient time for construction of Cell 6.
The two conditions set by Buhrmaster were repeated frequently by him throughout the proceedings. Several times, he asked County Attorney Sam Yasgur for a litter and odor control plan. However, Yasgur said the county would not release a plan until after the ruling.
DEC regional attorney Jonah Triebwasser concurred with the countys position throughout the issues conference. He stated that he would be amenable to a plan from the county after the permit was issued.
But Buhrmaster was concerned that the DEC would lose its enforcement capabilities once the permit was issued, so he maintained his call for the plans.
SPECS attorney Gary Abraham continually cited the countys pattern of neglect for DEC regulations throughout the history of the landfill. Both the regional office of the DEC and attorneys for the towns agreed that the county had been in continual violation of DEC odor and litter regulations for years. However, the DEC only fined the county once.
As for the County Legislature, Cunningham said, Were happy that [the ruling] gives us an opportunity to comply.
He said his staff is currently working on an odor and litter control plan, which he hopes to have completed relatively quickly. Cunningham added he was optimistic that there would be enough time to build Cell 6, although he could not commit to such. The countys plan will be reviewed by all parties.
As for the space crisis, the chairman pointed out the countys recent termination of importation contracts as a helpful move. He could not say for sure how much imported waste is still arriving at the landfill, as haulers may still be picking up trash from outside the county and dropping it off at transfer stations.
He also expects the Legislature to pass a resolution next month which would raise the tipping fees at the landfill.
Janet Newberg of SPECS spoke on behalf of her group.
We are pleased that the DEC recognizes that there are serious odor problems as well as maintenance issues that hadnt adequately been addressed in the past, she said. We are pleased that the permit for Cell 6 is conditioned upon the county submitting an adequate plan to remediate these problems. . . . We will continue to be actively involved in all future proceedings to prevent any unnecessary pollution of our environment. It is time for the county to stop the harmful dumping and develop a comprehensive plan towards waste.