Environmental group calls for stronger resolution to close Dunn Landfill

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RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Dumping the dump isn’t as easy as it sounds, according to the Mayor of Rensselaer. “When the city of Rensselaer gave their blessing for the dump to open, they turned the role of responsibility over to the DEC so it now belongs to them,” says Mayor Michael Stammel.

At Wednesday’s Rensselaer Common Council meeting, several people plead with the city to again demand the Dunn Landfill’s closure. Including Bob Welton, treasurer of the Rensselaer Environmental Coalition. Welton says the city’s resolution, demanding the closure of the landfill, which was sent to then Governor Andrew Cuomo in June, needs to be stronger. Especially after the discovery of PFAS substances, which are man-made and can be harmful to your health.

“We wanted them [the Common Council] to do everything they could to say why this should be closed and those are two big issues. PFAS is very dangerous and they don’t know much about it yet,” says a concerned Welton.

The city of Rensselaer originally supported the Dunn Landfill. Mayor Stammel says the city benefits economically from the dump but wonders: at what cost? “They’ve been giving us revenue for the ability to dump but I don’t think the revenue is enough for the quality of life. I don’t think any revenue is,” Stammel says.

Council President John DeFrancesco says the resolution crafted by the council, along with letters written by the public, were sent to Governor Kathy Hochul and the Department of Environmental Conservation urging them not to renew the Dunn Landfill’s permit which expires in July.

The Department of Environmental Conservation tells News10 it will continue to provide “strict oversight of operations” at the Dunn Landfill and that the department remains committed to address community concerns.

In June, the Council passed a resolution requesting the landfill be closed due to the negative impact on the community. REC said the resolution lacks important information.

PFAS were detected around the Dunn facility and in its liquid waste. PFAS are toxic chemicals and have the potential to contaminate the area around the landfill and could discharge into the Hudson River. Several downstream municipalities obtain their drinking water from the river.

REC said areas in Rensselaer around the truck route have recently been designated Environmental Justice zones, indicating that poor and minority populations are being impacted by the landfill.

At a special Town Hall meeting held in East Greenbush about the Dunn Landfill, Dr. David Carpenter, public health physician and Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment addressed the harmfulness of the landfill.

The Dunn Landfill poses significant threats to the people in the whole greater community, including East Greenbush. It has particular harm to children going to the Rensselaer Public School. Its going to reduce their ability to learn, its going to cause more asthma attacks. Its going to cause, in the future, more respiratory disease, cancer. It must be closed. I see this as an urgent public health hazard. I would totally support having the landfill closed yesterday. It certainly must not be renewed next year. But this is a very serious hazard. Everybody should take every action they can to urge the powers that be to close it, and the sooner the better.”

Dr. David Carpenter

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