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Supervisor Lou Guard advocates for landfill action in Ontario County

Lou Guard, who represents parts of the city of Geneva on the Ontario County Board of Supervisors – is asking that residents stay active on the landfill issue.

His voice enters the equation as county officials say odors could get worse, before they improve at the Casella-operated landfill along 5&20 in Seneca.

“If you are anything like me, landfill odors bother you and you are concerned about the various effects of odors and landfill operations,” Guard said in a message to residents.

His message was a direct response to the assertion that landfill odors would worsen before improving.

“I am aggravated by any worsening odors, even while I am cautiously optimistic with regard to potential results on this round of installations,” he said. “Recently, drones equipped with sensory technology were used to capture data on gases by flying over the site. We are told that this data shows precisely where gas is escaping from the landfill and the Planning and Environmental Quality Committee on which I serve was shown a ‘heat map’ that identified specific points of gas release. These release points are the areas where wells are now being installed. These wells are meant to release pressure and help capture gases before they are released into the air. In theory, they should help address the odor problem.”

His message was of cautious optimism.

“I am heartened by the fact that this recent plan seems to me to be one of the most thoughtful and data-driven approaches employed by Casella to-date,” Guard continued. “But I am also highly skeptical. I am mindful of the fact that this is a problem that has lingered for years. Indeed, if you quickly review the local media coverage, the past seven or more years reveals what I would term a slow crawl toward acknowledging and dealing with a problem, culminating with the hiring of an external engineering firm, SCS Engineers, in 2018. That’s right, that was 2018, and we’re here in 2020.”

Guard believes some progress has been made. He drafted an op-ed, which was published in the Finger Lakes Times – calling for Ontario County to take immediate action on worsening odors.

“Please know that I am dealing with this along with you and I don’t intend to back down. The odors are a nuisance: I smell them when you smell them, and they drive me crazy. As a Supervisor I accept no less than best-in-class operations from the county and from Casella,” Guard added. “As your advocate I scrutinize their dealings intensely at the committee and staff level. As a guy that deals with the odors I also have to call the hotline. If it doesn’t work, I complain directly to county administration at all hours of the night and day. The Finger Lakes is no place for a landfill and in the meantime, before it shuts down for good, I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure the best interests of county residents are put first.”

He asked for officials and community members to stay engaged on the topic, as solutions will take time to achieve.