The Hyland Landfill in Allegany County would vault from No. 8 to No. 4 in a ranking of permitted capacity among the state’s largest municipal solid waste landfills if state and local officials approve a proposed 107-acre expansion.
The landfill, owned and operated by Casella Waste Services Inc., is seeking to more than double its current 76-acre footprint and to expand its annual permitted capacity from 465,000 tons of waste to 1 million tons.
Angelica town and village voters will vote Nov. 3 on a referendum proposition on the expansion, which includes details on increased host agreement payments.
“The combination of the tonnage increase and the additional acreage would extend the life of the landfill by about 25 years,” Larry Shilling, vice president of landfill and business development for Casella, told WaterFront in a statement.
The company estimates that the landfill currently has about nine years of life remaining.
Shilling said Casella decided to try to obtain local approval of the permission to expand before launching its application for a required state permit, which may require the company to complete a lengthy and public environmental impact study.
The Town of Angelica has received more than $12 million in host agreement payments over the past two decades, Shilling said. Under the recent proposal, it stands to collect another $2.6 million a year, or 65 million over the life of the expansion.
Casella is offering the Village of Angelica “$500,000 a year for the life of the expansion, based on a $.50 per ton royalty, amounting to over $13 million over the life of the expansion,” Shilling said.
If Hyland receives all necessary approvals to expand, it would leapfrog ahead of four of the state’s other largest municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills in permitted capacity: Mill Seat in Monroe County, Chaffee Landfill in Erie County, and Modern Landfill and Allied/BFI Landfill in Niagara County.
The state’s largest two MSW landfills, Ontario County and Seneca Meadows, are located in the heart of the Finger Lakes.
Casella also owns the Hakes C&D Landfill in Steuben County, which falls under a different category of waste dump: construction and demolition. Hakes, which has an annual waste capacity of 540,000 tons, recently won DEC approval for an expansion from 57.9 to 78.9 acres.
Casella owns roughly 1,000 acres south of the village of Angelica, providing some buffer to the impacts of the landfill.
The expansion project includes the construction of a third lane of highway along Peacock Hill Road, “extending from the Interstate 86 intersection to Herdman Road, to accommodate the additional truck traffic,” Shilling said.
The Steuben Courier reported that under a 1995 host agreement, Hyland may try to win local voter approval for an expansion up to four times.
The Courier quoted Town Supervisor Robert Jones as saying, “I don’t know why the referendum would not pass.” But it also quoted Angelica Mayor Michael Trivisondoli as saying that it was “hard to say” if the proposition would pass.
Frederick Sinclair, a member of Concerned Citizens of Allegany County, said he had urged CCAC members to vote ‘no’ in November so they can learn from the public comments in the state permit application process and make a more informed decision later.
Maryalice Little, an individual petitioner (along with CCAC) in a Sierra Club lawsuit challenging the Hakes Landfill expansion, expressed her opposition to the proposed Hyland expansion.
“Money matters, but money won’t matter when the odors coming from the landfill are toxic, such that you can’t be outside or have to close your windows on a hot summer night.”
Sinclair said landfill odors have been a problem for decades.
“With sewage sludge and medical wastes from municipalities being deposited by the hundreds of tons per year at Hyland,” he said, “what is the potential for disease vectors entering the landfill and then migrating from the facility in odors, leachate and stormwater runoff?”
Shilling acknowledged the odor outbreaks. “Hyland has committed to increasing the amount of gas collection pipe placed in the landfill to collect and destroy the odorous gases,” he said.
Sinclair also noted Hyland is one of several Southern Tier landfills that has accepted drilling wastes from natural gas fracking operations in Pennsylvania.
Independent scientists have argued that imported “drilling cuttings” are likely to be dangerously radioactive, but Casella and the DEC have long disputed those assertions.
“We don’t take hazardous waste or waste from fracking,” Shilling told an audience of about 40 at the Grange Hall in Angelica Sept. 16, according to the Steuben Courier report. “We take drill cuttings from fracking which includes solid waste such as rocks and dirt.”
Landfill capacity is a statewide concern, largely because of New York City’s need to process enormous quantities of garbage. The city relies on waste incinerators, exporting waste to other states and major in-state landfills such as Seneca Meadows, the state’s largest MSW facility.
But Seneca Meadows is being pressured to close in 2025, while demand for landfill capacity will remain steady or grow.
That’s put pressure on the DEC to “not always rigorously follow its mandate to protect people and the environment,” said Karen Biesanz, a member of People for a Healthy Environment. “The common anti-expansion rationales just aren’t working very well, e.g. odors, noise, traffic, pollution, vermin, health concerns.”
The referendum proposition Angelica voters will vote on Nov. 3 states: “In accordance with the terms of the Amended Host Community Agreement between Hyland Facility Associates and the Town of Angelica, dated December 27, 1999, as amended in February 14, 2005, shall the Hyland Project be expanded to include an additional 107 acres of cell area, which will trigger increased host fees to the town and produce approximately $65,000,000 of additional revenue to the Town and approximately $13,000,000 of revenue to the Village of Angelica over the life of the facility?”
The Village of Angelica, settled in 1802, was named for Angelica Schuyler Church, the sister-in-law of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Her son named the settlement.
Peter is a three-time Pulitzer nominated reporter covering environmental issues through his first-of-its-kind digital publication The Water Front. He’s won an array of Associated Press, UPI, and Society of Professional Journalist awards. His reporting on environmental issues continues to be featured in prominent New York publications and is available on FingerLakes1.com through an exclusive content partnership. Have a question or lead? Send it to [email protected].