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For Release: Thursday, October 10, 2019

DEC Announces New Requirements to Improve Dunn Landfill Operations and Public Communication

State-Initiated Measures Include Enhanced Gas Collection, Daily Cover of Waste, Phasing of Waste Cell Construction, and New Complaint Hotline - (518) 292-0449

Builds Upon DEC's Ongoing Monitoring and Inspections to Ensure Permit Compliance and Prevent Off-Site Impacts

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the agency is initiating new operational requirements for the S.A. Dunn Landfill in Rensselaer to address potential impacts in response to community input and DEC's ongoing daily monitoring and inspections. These new requirements will further reduce the potential for odors and other off-site impacts by going beyond existing voluntary actions and will require the facility to improve the collection of gas, cover waste, and complete a new perimeter berm in order to construct a new waste cell, as well as to establish new protocols to help ensure prompt investigations upon receiving reports to a new complaint hotline.

"DEC's top priority is ensuring that residents, as well as students, faculty, and staff at the Rensselaer City School campus, are not exposed to any potential health or safety hazards from the operations at the Dunn facility," Commissioner Seggos said. "We have taken this latest action to hold the landfill operators responsible for implementing additional controls that prevent odors, dust, and other potential impacts from affecting the community, while also giving us new enforcement tools if these requirements are not met."

DEC issued a Department Initiated Modification (DIM) to include new specific and stringent conditions to protect public health and safety. The Dunn facility must undertake these actions in order to continue operating. The new requirements include:

  • Installing and operating a robust gas collection system. Prior to executing this DIM, the facility was voluntarily operating a system that reduced, but did not eliminate, off-site odors. DEC previously initiated continuous active hydrogen sulfide (H2S) monitoring by installing four pole-mounted Acrulog samplers at strategic locations around the perimeter of the Dunn facility. There were two occasions when the Acrulog monitors documented elevated H2S readings believed to be related to operational issues with the existing gas collection system. The DIM makes the installation and operation of an enhanced system a DEC permit requirement, which enables DEC to respond immediately and take corrective action when H2S values become elevated and to take additional enforcement action whenever necessary to protect public health and the environment.
  • Covering disposed waste daily. Until the DIM was issued, the facility agreed to voluntarily perform daily cover of exposed waste. DEC has documented incidents when daily cover was not fully applied. With the issuance of the DIM, DEC now has the legal authority to enforce this requirement.
  • Construct a berm before the construction of a new waste cell. DEC's 2019 Consent Order required the construction of a soil berm along the northern and northeastern perimeter of the Dunn facility adjacent to the school to provide an additional visual, odor, dust, and noise buffer to the school and its recreational fields. The DIM enhances this requirement by moving landfill operations farther from the school until the berm is fully constructed. The operator has applied for a modification to the permit for construction of the berm, but DEC's technical review found the application to be incomplete. DEC requested additional information from the operator. When the additional information is provided and DEC determines there is sufficient information to begin the public review of the application, DEC will schedule opportunities for thorough public review and input. The facility operator will not be able to begin construction of the berm until this permit is issued by DEC, and therefore waste disposal will occur farther from the school until the berm is approved and fully constructed.
  • Establish a hotline to report complaints. Dunn is required to establish a new hotline and complaints will be immediately provided to DEC, resulting in more immediate and reliable information about off-site odor issues and other impacts. The complaint hotline is already operational, and complaints should be submitted to (518) 292-0449.

DEC will continue to closely monitor operations and air quality conditions at the facility and surrounding community and will strictly oversee the implementation of the corrective actions and modifications to ensure public health and the environment are protected to the fullest extent under the law. DEC performs regular and off-hour inspections, oversees a full-time on-site monitor to monitor the facility's compliance with their permit, operates continuous Acrulog air monitoring meter readings, and examines samples of air particulate matter of 10 micrometers or less in diameter (PM10) taken by a DEC trailer at the school.

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