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Landfill Consultant Says
Big Changes Are Needed

By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO — August 20, 2004 – The highly anticipated report by Stephen Lynch of R.S. Lynch, Inc. on the Sullivan County Landfill was discussed during a presentation by Lynch at a special meeting of the Legislature’s Public Works Committee yesterday at the Sullivan County Government Center.
Lynch advised raising tipping fees, lowering daily cover and other alternatives to maximize space.
Lynch believes that if the county ends importation of waste from outside the county and follows his advice for generating an increase in space of almost 30,000 tons, then the current landfill might barely make it through 2005.
If not, the landfill has been estimated by Malcolm Pirnie, longtime consultants for the county, to run out of space by March 2005.
The county has ended most of its importation contracts. However, the county has not banned waste entering the landfill from outside the county.
The county has one of the lowest tipping fee rates in the region. However, a raise in the tipping fees was passed 7-1 yesterday, with Leni Binder absent and Jodi Goodman against it due to a concern over its effect on area summer colonies. The proposal, to take effect September 20, will raise normal waste tipping fees from $55 a ton to $75 a ton. Construction and demolition debris fees will rise to $125 a ton. The county would continue a contract with Dutchess County to import 50,000 tons of cover each year.
The consultant called the landfill’s space issue a “crisis.” He said the county must restrict importation from outside the county. Many counties, he explained, have done the same.
The county is currently awaiting approval from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Administrative Law Judge Edward Buhrmaster for a permit to begin construction. Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Chris Cunningham announced at the meeting that an odor and litter control plan, required by Buhrmaster, was sent out to the parties involved, including SPECS, who may challenge the plan.
Lynch, like previous consultants, has estimated a lifespan of approximately one year for Cell 6. However, the end of importation could lengthen the lifespan of that space as well.
“We’re getting dangerously close to running out of space in cells 4 and 5,” said Lynch.
Much of his presentation was spent hammering the point that the county must reduce its intake of alternative daily cover (ADC). He said the county’s landfill has historically filled its space up with as much as 34 percent ADC, higher than the industry standard of 25-26 percent.
Legislator Rodney Gaebel contended that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had instructed the county to use more daily cover due to its ongoing odor problem.
Lynch further called for an independent monitor to report to the legislature on how much ADC the landfill was taking in on a weekly basis and to find ways to bring the cover down. He advised the county “fight” with the DEC to lower its intake of ADC.
An independent monitor could also examine the county’s use of space and costs at the site. It could be used to work on proactive planning, said Lynch.
He argued feverishly that the county must raise its tipping fees to recoup its costs and to maximize space. Construction and demolition debris required a steep raise since it takes up more space per ton than other waste.
Landfill-associated costs have run the county into more than $50 million of debt thus far.
Lynch also suggested that the county is losing money on its transfer stations. He recommended raising the tipping fees at the transfer stations to $85 a ton.
Lynch also believed the county could benefit greatly from recycling in terms of space and cost.
“I think you can save money from increasing recycling,” he said.
Cunningham called Lynch’s work “a good report.” He also said that “we are using this as a basis to go forward.”
Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce President Jacquie Leventoff praised Cunningham for working with the haulers on the issues they have with the proposed raise in tipping fees but also urged legislators not to raise the fees so much. In particular, she believed the raise in construction and demolition debris would “hurt all businesses.”

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