Finger Lakes Landfill Summit 2.0
Next Steps: Citizen-directed Solid Waste Management Strategies
for the Northern Finger Lakes Region
April 9, 2014, 6:30 to 9:00 PM
Sponsored by the Finger Lakes Institute and Geneva City Council
Albright Auditorium, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, New York
Purpose: The City of Geneva sits between two mega-landfills – Seneca Meadows (largest landfill in the state at 6,000/tons/day) about 9 miles to the east and the Ontario County Landfill (3rd largest in the State at 3,000 tons/day) approximately 6 miles west of The City. For the last ten years this region has been the epicenter in NYS for the disposal of not only municipal solid waste, but also sewage and industrial sludges, construction and demolition debris, and other “special wastes” from remediation of old industrial sites.
Citizens and activists have been concerned that the continual operation and expansions of these mega-landfills will redefine the economic and social character of the northern Finger Lakes region from one based on the region’s natural beauty, tourism, wine and recreation – currently a $2.7 billion/year economy – toward one based on waste imports and unsustainable industrialization. Much of the energy of concerned citizens and local governments has been focused on minimizing and controlling the impacts of the day-to-day operations of these mega-landfills.
The first Finger Lakes Landfill Summit presented the status of solid waste management practices in Seneca and Ontario Counties in the context of New York State’s solid waste management plan outlined in the Beyond Waste guideline.
Objective of the 2nd Finger Lakes Landfill Summit
- Present actionable strategies for the Northern Finger Lakes region based on new plans and developments in solid waste/materials management including the following:
- Ontario County’s 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plan
- Expansion plans of SMI and Ontario Landfills
- County and municipal efforts to promote composting and other recycling and reuse strategies
- Solid waste economics and markets and solid waste industry strategies
- The Finger Lakes Cleaner, Greener Sustainability Plan
- Job creation in the recycling and sustainability infrastructure
- Planning resources for closure of mega-landfills/economic development.
- Issues related to rail importation of far-away waste.
- Time for Questions and Answers. – 45 minutes.
- Televised and/or transcribed minutes for posting on-line.
Moderator: Mark Lichtenstein, Executive Director, Syracuse Center of Excellence, Center for Sustainable Communities Solutions (Syracuse University)
Brief summary of the results of the first summit, and future-oriented observations
1st Speaker: Charlie Evangelista, Ontario County Board of Supervisors, City of Geneva, Ontario County’s 10-Year Solid Waste Plan (15 minutes)
The speaker will outline the objectives of Ontario County’s 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plan and provide a critical analysis of the challenges that local residents and businesses will face in increasing their recycling and landfill diversion efforts. He will also discuss County support of innovative ideas for recycling, composting, and reuse initiatives.
2nd Speaker: Barbara Eckstrom, Solid Waste Manager of Tompkins County, Incentives and Initiatives to Maximize Diversion from Landfills (15 minutes)
The speaker will describe how Tompkins County Solid Waste Management has implemented key strategies for residents and businesses to divert waste from landfills. The program features a number of incentives that encourage recycling, composting, reuse and waste reduction. The speaker will describe the program and how it has resulted in a 60% diversion rate.
3rd Speaker: Graham Fennie, Founder & CEO, Epiphergy, LLC., Sustainable Organic Waste Processing (15 minutes)
The speaker will describe how organic waste can be separated from the waste stream and processed effectively to benefit its clients and the environment. The system developed by Epiphergy was initially conceived in 2008 and has been in commercial operation in Rochester for over 4 years. The system is modular and as a result works in small communities but also can be scaled up to serve a larger metropolitan area. The speaker will discuss how this system can be deployed to serve the greater Geneva community.
4th Speaker: Gary Abraham, Attorney-at-Law, Local Control of Solid Waste Management (15 minutes)
The speaker will describe how local municipalities in New York possess legal authority to regulate waste management activities, including disposal facilities, very stringently, up to an outright ban on landfills and a mandate to recycle and reuse. In fact, historically waste management was entirely a local function but today has largely passed into the hands of profit-seeking corporations. As a result, there is little public accountability for how waste is managed, and municipalities are relegated to paying ever increasing fees to private companies which tell them how their waste will be managed. Ways in which municipalities can exercise their power to change this situation will be identified.
5th Speaker: Mark Venuti, Ontario County Board of Supervisors, Town of Geneva, Scenario for Landfill Closure/Going Back to a Local Landfill Operation in Ontario County (10 minutes)
The speaker will describe a scenario for Ontario County to close down mega-landfill operations and return to a local municipal solid waste landfill at the end of the current lease, which expires in 2028. The focus will be on using a significant portion of current landfill revenue to improve the efficacy of recycling, composting and other strategies to steadily move Ontario County toward a zero waste goal. There should also be some sheltering of a portion of landfill receipts over time to reduce the impact of the revenue lost when the operator’s lease payments stop.
6th Speaker: Stephen Churchill, Seneca County Board of Supervisors, Supervisor-at-Large, Scenario for Landfill Closure/Going Back to a Local Landfill Operation in Seneca County (10 minutes)
The speaker will discuss aspects of environmental justice and examine the local and regional impacts of landfill operations vs. the community benefits. He will also discuss the implications of closing a mega-landfill:
- What’s next at the end of the current SMI permit which expires in 2023?
- Should the landfill be allowed to expand beyond its current M2 Zone?
- What strategies exist to minimize the financial impact of the landfill closure?
- What is the future of waste in our County after landfill closure?
Audience Questions: Moderated by Mark Lichtenstein (45 minutes)