Cortland County Extends Trash to Ash Scoping Comment Period at Request of Onondaga Legislature
At the request of the Onondaga County Legislature, Cortland County lawmakers have voted to extend the public comment period on scoping documents related to the proposed solid waste partnership between the two counties.
The public will now have until March 28th to make comments and suggestions on what the County should be looking at by way of environmental issues in connection with the proposed trash to ash swap between Cortland and Onondaga Counties.
Following a nearly hour long executive session last night, lawmakers voted unanimously to extend the comment period another month. The comment period was set to end today.
Legislative Chair Susan Briggs says she was contacted by the Chair of the Onondaga County Legislature who requested that more time be added to the public comment period as part of an effort to give residents and elected officials there time to weigh in.
The state environmental quality review act which is used to evaluate the environmental impacts of medium to large projects like this trash to ash swap provides for a scoping process which, allows the public and other interested parties a means to identify issues that they feel should be covered as part of the overall review. Those issues are then are then included in the environmental impact statement which is the next step in the process.
Some members of the public have been critical of the information that the County has made available as part of the scoping process. Briggs says the scoping period is used identify concerns and until the impact statement is prepared their isn't a lot of documents or information to review.
Cortland and Onondaga Counties are considering a partnership that would have Cortland County send all trash collected at the County landfill to Onondaga County for incineration. 23 thousand tons of local municipal waste would be converted into electricity, in exchange Cortland County would accept 90 thousand tons of incinerator ash. The deal has the potential of generating as much as a million dollars a year for Cortland County and half a million annually for Onondaga.
Proponents of the deal say it will help stem ongoing financial losses in both communities, increase opportunities for recycling, and divert harmful chemicals and materials from the landfill.
Opponents of the project are concerned about the impact the ash will have on the environment, increased truck traffic to the landfill, and reduced useful life of the landfill.