Monday, August 16, 2010

County Waste

TROY  - The state Department of Environmental Conservation will extend the comment period an additional week for the proposed expansion of a County Waste transfer station in South Troy, but the City Council will not be able to seek lead agency status under the State Environmental Quality Review Act process. According to DEC Region 4 spokesperson Rick Georgeson, the city administration never responded to a June letter sent out regarding lead agency.

Its not clear that they could even be lead agency if they wanted to, because they have to have some kind of permitting authority, said Georgeson. They'd have to tell us if they have any permitting authority for this type of change. At this point we don't know because they never responded.

City spokesperson Jeff Pirro said that he could not immediately determine whether or not the letter was received by the Mayors Office, but did release a statement via e-mail.

"I support the DEC extending the period allowing residents to comment and learn more about the operations at the County Waste site. DEC has stringent policies in place to permit and monitor these operations for environmental compliance," said Mayor Harry Tutunjian, adding that the city will install new signage and use enforcement to address resident complaints about the use of city streets for truck traffic. County Waste has invested significantly in that site. It is much cleaner and safer than it was six years ago when I took office.

Because they never received a response, the DEC took over as lead agency and made a negative declaration for the proposal on July 20. After multiple residents spoke out against the proposed expansion to the tonnage and operation hours of the station at last weeks regular meeting, City Council President Clem Campana, D-At Large, said the Council planned to seek lead agency status. Upon hearing that the SEQR process was already completed, Campana said No steps can be skipped in this process. It seemed like this thing just ramped right up without anybody knowing about it.

Campana said that members of the Council plan to meet with the DEC and have reached out to County Waste to hold some kind of open house so that residents can get a better idea of the stations operations.

The process was flawed, like most things with the city, so lets get back on track and get it done the right way, Campana said.

Even with the SEQR process already completed, changes can still be made to the proposed expansion.

The negative declaration means it does not have to go through a full-blown environmental impact statement, but if we did receive significant, substantive comments that we felt warranted further action we could either deny the permit or approve it with amendments, said Georgeson, adding that amendments could include a change in the proposed hours of operation or other permit conditions.

Comments received by the DEC are responded to, after which point a decision will be made a process that could last months.

It varies tremendously based on the project, said Georgeson. We work with County Waste to prepare responses; well look at them and if we have any further questions or concerns well have them amend it.

Georgeson said that the DEC has only received about a half dozen comments so far from the public regarding the proposal, but after multiple requests the comment period has been extended through August 19. For more information on how to submit a comment, visit the Environmental Notice Bulletin on the DECs website at or contact the Region 4 permitting office at 357-2456.

Cecelia Martinez can be contacted at 270-1294 or by e-mail at