Cortland County lawmakers have rejected incinerator ash for use as daily cover at the county-owned landfill.
It was standing room only in the county legislative chambers, where more than two dozen speakers urged legislators to reject the acceptance of 5 thousand tons of ash annually for use as cover on the landfill.
Several speakers raised questions and concerns about potential health impacts of the ash and the potential liability the county could incur by accepting the material.
Among those opposed, Solon resident Alison King, who served on the county citizens environmental advisory committee. King says the ash contains multiple toxins that could impact public health, she applauded the legislature for rejecting the ash.
Speakers at the meeting raised questions about the potential for the ash to blow off the landfill and what would happen if trucks hauling ash were to spill. Other members of the public questioned if the ash could seep from the lined landfill cells.
Lawmakers have been grappling with mounting losses at the landfill. Last year the facility cost taxpayers $800 thousand dollars. The losses are attributed to debt payments on previous expansions, falling tonnage limits, and operational expenses. Adding ash could have saved the county money and generated over $100 thousand dollars in revenue.
Several speakers urged the county to consider increasing tipping fees at the landfill or establish a local flow control law to help reduce the losses at the landfill.
Legislators voted 9-7 against accepting the ash. Several lawmakers like Legislator Susan Briggs said they have heard from multiple residents who have opposed the ash.
Legislator Tom Hartnett, who chairs the Solid Waste Committee says he understands ash is unpopular.
The county has previously considered several alternatives including flow control and they weren’t approved. Raising fees could encourage more haulers to take their trash to other landfills leading to further losses.
Several legislators said based on this vote a larger ash for trash swap with Onondaga County is not going to move forward.