CAMPBELL - Approximately 100 local residents and a handful of officials from the Department of Environmental Conservation and Casella Waste Systems gathered at the Campbell American Legion Tuesday for a public hearing regarding the proposed expansion of the Hakes C&D Landfill in Painted Post.
The landfill, which is owned by Casella, is proposing to expand from 57.9 acres to 80 acres, with another 22.4-acre proposal for construction and cover materials. Casella owns the land where the expansion is proposed.
Some of the residents that were at the meeting live near the landfill, while others do not. They were concerned about a variety of factors, including the environmental impact, the odor, the volume of vehicles that travel to and from the landfill, and the health of nearby residents.
“There’s a lot of safety issues, and road issues, maintenance issues, and health issues,” said a man who said he lives about a half mile away from the landfill.
However, many were predominantly concerned over radioactive materials contained in the fracking waste from Pennsylvania that’s deposited into the landfill, which includes radon-226, bismuth-214 and lead-214.
“I worked in the industry for 37 years,” said another man from Bath, who was concerned about fracking waste. “If we bring the drilling cuttings here, we’re just adding to the criminal stuff that’s going on in Pennsylvania.”
“I’m concerned about the health impact, and I think a lot more science needs to be applied to figure it out,” said Painted Post resident Nancy Cook.
Campbell resident Joe Simmons said he was at the hearing seeking answers about the situation.
“I really don’t know at this point, I guess I just wonder why we want to dump Pennsylvania’s fracking waste into New York,” he said.
Casella Waste Systems Vice President Larry Schilling said the company was also worried about radioactive materials in fracking waste when the fracking boom arrived in the late 2000′s.
He said subsequent studies showed radioactive materials in the waste were “slightly above background, and (that) it’s nothing to really be concerned with from an operational standpoint, an environmental standpoint, or a safety standpoint.”
“When the Marcellus drilling started, back in 2009, we had the same concerns. Because the geologists called it a radioactive shale, and they wanted to bring us those drill cuttings,” he said. “We engaged with a number of experts and prepared some studies to ascertain whether or not it was actually an issue.”
A recent Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) stated the amount of these substances in the landfill are at a safe level. Some local enviromentalists are contesting the findings.
Geologist and environmental scientist Dr. Raymond Vaughan, a consultant with the Sierra Club environmental organization, conducted his own analysis of the findings and stated there are higher levels of radioactive materials than have been reported. He presented his findings Saturday to a group of residents at Campbell-Savona High School.
The DEC stated anyone interested may submit comments on the DSEIS and town site plan to the DEC by Feb. 26 by calling (585) 226-5400 or emailing hakesSEQRhearing@dec.ny.gov.