UPDATE: The NYC Department of Sanitation and Seneca Meadows Landfill have tentatively agreed on the $3.3 billion contract that would send trash from NYC to Seneca Meadows via rail for 20 to 30 years. Seneca Meadows, which currently accepts about 1,415 tons of NYC trash each day, would handle up to 2,495 tons with the new contract.
Kyle Black, regional manager of IESI-Seneca Meadows, explained that the rail contract will be beneficial because it will take trucks off of the road while creating more jobs. However, pending legal matters (and some opposition) stand in the way of the finalized contract.
"Once finalized, the contract goes to the city comptroller. The city anticipates having the contract registered by the comptroller, as required by law, within the next few months," said Kathy Dawkins of DSNY to The Finger Lake Times.
- The New York City Department of Sanitation conducted a public hearing last week to propose a contract that would send NYC's trash to Seneca Meadows Landfill, in Seneca Falls, NY, via train for the next 20 years.
- The contract could be worth as much as $3.3 billion to IESI Corp., the owner of the Seneca Meadows Landfill. Progressive Waste Solutions, the parent company of IESI, submitted a sealed bid to New York. "The contract must still be awarded by the city and registered by the city comptroller," Seneca Meadows officials said in a statement.
- The Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition, which launched a "Don't Trash the Finger Lakes" campaign, sent representatives to the hearing to oppose the contract. Additionally, Waterloo Container and Concerned Citizens of Seneca County also expressed concerns. Attorney Doug Zamelis spoke on behalf of Waterloo, stating, "The people of the Finger Lakes will aggressively fight this ill-conceived proposal."
The contract between the city and IESI may be a necessary evil to best deal with New York City's trash. Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia has noted that the city moves 10,500 tons of refuse a day, which is an incredible amount of waste to dispose. "NYC is a city of islands," Garcia said at WASTECON in August. "As many of you know, moving anything in or out of a series of islands is logistically incredibly complicated." Therefore, DSNY is making efforts to move the refuse in the most efficient way possible.
Residents in Finger Lakes don't seem to agree. "The people of the Finger Lakes need an opportunity to voice their concerns about this proposal," said Biologist Sandra Steingraber. "We do not want the city’s garbage in a landfill in the watershed of Seneca Lake where we have not only a world-class wine tourism destination, but 100,000 people who get their drinking water from this pristine lake."
As DSNY pushes toward zero waste, the issue of where to dispose of trash may become less of an issue. The Department has recently expanded composting rules, implemented textile recycling, and is improving commercial recycling rules — all of which will drive the city toward achieving zero waste.