RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Amid continuing calls to close the Dunn Landfill in Rensselaer, NEWS10 ABC sat down with the mayor to find out what options, if any, the city has to intervene.
“The city has come out and said, ‘hey, there was a bad decision made here somehow or another, how did we end up with a dump in our backyard?’” said Mayor Michael Stammel.
Before he was elected in November, Stammel made it clear he wanted the Dunn Landfill closed.
“I want it closed and a cease and desist sent,” he said, back when he visited our News10 studios before being elected.
It’s a belief he holds today as mayor of Rensselaer.
“I never said I could close it, but I definitely was going to do my part to make it happen,” he said.
The dump is under the control of the DEC, which, along with the Department of Health, held an informational session at the school last week. It resulted in the hydrogen sufife monitors that are usually positioned outside the school, but taken down in the winter, being moved inside the school until April. It’s not enough, says Bob Welton with the Rensselaer Environmental Coalition.
“Because if they don’t get the data, they’re never going to do anything, and I think the way things are positioned right now, they’re not getting the information,” he said.
Mayor Stammel says until the landfill’s permit is up for renewal in two years, there are limited options to close the dump. He says the best way to get the DEC’s attention, is for the public to continue reporting odor and adverse health effects. But he also says some have been hesitant to do so.
“The public had some concerns that the people from the landfill were getting information that there might be some retribution,” he said.
So an environmental group created a website called “It Stinks” where the public can report smells and symptoms. But since it’s anonymous, it’s not acceptable evidence for the DEC.
“Reports from people being sick, having to pull their kids out of school. There was one adult who threw up because the smell was so strong,” said Welton.
Another issue – the constant truck traffic. Stammel says there will be a local law proposed that would limit trucks to certain routes.
A Dunn Landfill spokesperson maintains quote, “Our top priority is to the environment and the health and safety of local residents and the students and staff at the Rensselaer School.”
The impact is being felt outside Rensselaer too. Welton is from East Greenbush, where the Town Board is holding a public hearing on the dump March 11th. He says the area can’t afford to wait two years before something is done.
“No, I think they need to deal with this now,” said Welton.