SENECA FALLS — The state Department of Environmental Conservation Tuesday granted Seneca Meadow Landfill an extension of its operating permit until Dec. 31, 2025.
The DEC added seven new conditions regarding odor control to the permit, which incorporates the landfill’s tire recycling facility under the same permit.
The renewal will have a public comment period during which time the public can review and comment on the draft permit.
The permit keeps all other permit conditions the same, including the limit of up to 6,000 tons of trash per day. DEC officials said because of “significant public interest,” it scheduled public comment opportunities. The DEC included a responsiveness summary to address concerns raised by the public.
“In response to the number and frequency of odor complaints regarding this facility, the Department has added several conditions to the 2017 renewal permit to address odor control,” it states.
Those new conditions are:
• Gas collection and control from the working face of the landfill.
• A pilot off-site odor assessment program.
• Limits on the quantity and types of waste that can be used as alternate daily cover.
• Placement of intermediate cover at a frequency less than 30 days or other protective measures in areas where odor problems are not controlled.
• Limits on the recirculation of leachate within the waste mass.
• Additional surface emission monitoring beyond what is required in applicable federal air regulations and subsequent odor control plan items.
• Ongoing submission of monthly updated odor complaint log charts and summaries.
DEC Administrative Law Judge Molly McBride presided over the hearing and made a recommendation on the permit renewal to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, who made the final decision.
The 29-page permit was issued and signed by DEC Region 8 permit administrator Scott Sheeley. Seneca Meadows had sought a 10-year permit renewal.
The permit issued in 2007 expired Oct. 10. DEC officials said the landfill can continue operating under terms of the old permit until a decision is made on the renewal application.
A majority of the oral comments during the Aug. 10 public hearing at Mynderse Academy either were opposed to a renewal or favored a permit renewal of two to five years.
Thirty-five of the 45 written comments received by the DEC were opposed to an extension or favored a two- to five-year permit. Most of the comments mentioned the odor problem and its impact on the quality of life.
Of the 148 email comments received, 117 opposed an extension while 31 supported it.
The DEC analyzed all comments and issued the responsiveness summary, addressing the concerns raised.
Regarding the odor concerns, the DEC response cited the seven new conditions being imposed. They also said the odor neutralizer or deodorizer used by the landfill is not harmful to humans and said odor complaints are “best made” to the landfill’s hotline “because odors are most efficiently and timely investigated and addressed by the SMI landfill staff directly,” it stated.
DEC officials aid the landfill employs staff who are specifically trained for odor control.
DEC officials also said “the voluntary efforts of SMI have significantly decreased the occurrence of off-site landfill odor complaints.” They said the landfill investigates the complaints and possible causes on a timely basis, meeting frequently with Region 8 officials.
Other concerns raised and responded to by the DEC were air quality, dust, traffic and diesel truck emissions, health issues, radiation from drill cuttings from hydrofracking operations in Pennsylvania, ground and surface water, leachate impacts on wastewater treatment plants and liner integrity.
DEC officials said the permit was issued for eight years, based on waste density.
“The department has determined that there is no regulatory basis for revocation or denial of the permit,” it stated.
The DEC also said landfills are part of the state’s solid waste management plan and Seneca Falls and Waterloo are not considered potential environmental justice areas under current policy.
The summary acknowledges comments made in support of the landfill, which cited a variety of benefits to the local community. They includes taxes, the host agreement benefit revenue to Seneca Falls and Waterloo, support of nonprofits, county Farm Bureau support, employment, electrical energy generated by the methane gas, the wetland preserve and the tire recycling facility.
Landfill Regional Manager Kyle Black said the receipt of the permit renewal “was great news for our team.”
“They work hard every day to operate our facility with the care, excellence and precision that has earned us national award-winning environmental recognition,” Black said.
“As always, we will work in full compliance with local, state and federal regulations and permits,” he added.