Onondaga County residents speak out against 'Trash to Ash' plan

Jun 10, 2014

Opponents to a trash to ash plan between Onondaga and Cortland Counties had their say at an informational meeting on the environmental impact of the proposed move in the town of DeWitt last night.  

The plan would truck garbage from Cortland County to Onondaga County’s trash burner in Jamesville, then return the ash to the Cortland County landfill. Many of the people who testified at the meeting had been involved in the fierce debate over whether the plant should have been built in the first place  20 years ago, and remembered the promises made to placate a community.  

“Since that time the county legislature has slowly removed all of the safeguards, put in place during the initial process," said Jamesville resident Dennis Payne. "The Citizens Advisory Committee was ended.  And then the offsite monitoring committee.  So now we must rely on Covanta’s yearly air purity test, to insure the purity of the emissions from the incinerator,” he said.

Covanta is the company that currently operates the plant. Onondaga County is currently in contract negotiations with the company regarding the future of the trash burner. Among other things, residents are worried about the health impacts of adding Cortland County’s trash to the incinerator, suggesting dioxins coming from the plant have already had adverse health effects on residents. 

They are also worried that the plant is outdated, with other communities abandoning the incinerator model of trash disposal.

“The plant is an old plant, with an old C.E.M. monitor following an old health risk assessment, following old ideas," said Vicki Baker, a former county legislator and opponent of the plan. "We look to you for fresh sustainable solutions.”

Opponents of the plan are asking that the public comment period in the scoping session be extended through September. County lawmakers say they will consider that. Onondaga County is interested in bringing in more trash to a plant that is underutilized because of the success of the county’s recycling program.