Residents upset over delays in capping Monroe landfill

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:48

    MONROE-Tempers flared during the almost four hour Monroe Town Board meeting on last Monday night. Approximately 50 residents, including several from Chester, came to voice their concerns regarding the capping of the eight acre landfill on Lakes Road. Representatives from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Sterling Environmental Engineering, P.C., MacDonald Engineering and Young/Sommer LLC were present, in addition to the Town Supervisor and board members. Mark Millspaugh, president of Sterling Environmental Engineering, P.C., provided some background information on the landfill, explaining that although DEC requested its closure in 1987, the Monroe landfill had already ceased operations in 1985. Several surveys and ground water samples were provided to DEC for review, and in 2004 a revised report was submitted and accepted. The delay in completing the landfill cap was one of the primary concerns expressed during the meeting. Monroe resident Kathy Parrella questioned how 95 percent of the landfills which chose to close completed the capping process within five years, yet Monroe's was still pending. Mark Millspaugh told her that the original schedule was not met due to New York State budget issues, and that due to the current delayed budget the capping is now scheduled for 2005. Councilman Peter Martin added that no one wanted to raise taxes. He also said the landfill was not posing a threat and was "not a time bomb." Attorney Kevin Young, of Young/Sommer LLC, informed the group that he was the former Monroe Town Board attorney who had initially advised them regarding the landfill. He said that it was found to be a "typical small rural landfill" which, according to scientists and experts, did not have significant environmental impact. Residents also alleged that the testing performed on the site was inadequate and unreliable. Longtime resident Bob Fury told DEC representatives that he knew the landfill was toxic because he had spent thousands of hours in it and that he had provided signed affidavits from 18 people indicating the same. He was adamant that the landfill has over a million rounds of ammunition from turkey shoots in it and in the surrounding banks. In addition, he said it contains oil pit drums, tractors, batteries, and air conditioners which contain dangerous Freon and toxic PCBs. He offered to show the DEC where to place borings to prove allegations, at his own expense. "A lot of lives are at stake if I'm right and you're wrong," he said. Mike Endrizzi, another Monroe resident, was applauded when he compared DEC's failure to perform additional testing to the failure of DNA testing for death row inmates. "We're like citizens on death row." Steven Parisio, a Senior Engineering Geologist with DEC, stated the data gathered from the samples collected was "very consistent with other landfills." But, he did agree that the data is limited. Although it was classified as a Construction and Demolition (C & D) Debris landfill, Parisio said DEC was aware that more things were in it than C & D debris. Mark Millspaugh also acknowledged that there was contamination in the landfill similar to that of a hazardous waste site. Because of this, the parameters used to monitor it would be the same as if it were a hazardous landfill and when capped it will be treated as a Municipal Solid Waste landfill. Parisio also pointed out that DEC was not happy that it had not yet been closed and that they wanted it done as soon as possible. Regional Engineer Richard Baldwin told Bob Fury that any direct evidence of hazardous waste on the site should be submitted to DEC for evaluation. Steven Parisio reiterated this statement and added that there was no indication of PCBs in the only round of testing performed. Concerns were also voiced about the possible water well on the Henry Farms project. "I don't want my children, grandchildren, or neighbors being poisoned" Bob Fury said. "It's common sense. You don't put a water district a hundred feet from a landfill" he added. Sandy Leonard responded that Henry Farms had received preliminary approval and was now able to make application for the well. She said nothing could be done until the application was submitted, and if it was, there was "no question" additional testing would be done. DEC Deputy Regional Attorney Triebwasser added that if there was an application for the well, it would be open to public review, and that Henry Farms would have to obtain a water supply permit as well as perform detailed engineering studies. Also, a public hearing with an independent judge would be held. Steven Parisio further stated that no one should be concerned about being physically affected by the landfill unless they are between the landfill and the pumping well. "Bad water goes towards the pumping well" he said. Capping of the landfill will involve covering the top of it with a plastic layer, which will then be covered with dirt. The sides and floor are not lined and will not be covered. In addition, there will be a gas venting system to convey the methane gas being generated from the landfill. "This (methane gas) is not unusual" said Steven Parisio. Once completed, the cap will dramatically reduce if not totally prevent the infiltration of rain waters. Monitoring of the landfill will continue for a minimum of 30 years. Sterling Environmental Engineering president Mark Millspaugh puts his license and credibility on the line for any information that is not correct, but the Town of Monroe is ultimately responsible for any landfill contamination issues. According to Supervisor Sandy Leonard, the town is considering the covered area for possible ball fields.