Cortland County lawmakers have approved a five-year contract to accept incinerator ash as daily cover at the county landfill.
In a 5-1 vote with Democratic Legislator Raylynn Knolls voting against, lawmakers approved the contract with the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency.
The contract calls for the Cortland County Landfill to receive 5 thousand tons of incinerator ash for use as daily waste cover. State law requires the trash at the landfill to be covered daily. The county currently mines shale to use for cover. It costs the county as much as $100 thousand dollars a year to mine shale including manpower and equipment expenses.
According to County Highway Superintendent Phil Kray, the county would be paid $14 per ton for the ash. By accepting the ash, the county stands to make between $65 and $70 thousand dollars in addition to cutting the mining expense the county could realize a $165 thousand dollar savings.
Several opponents have raised concerns about the health and environmental impacts associated with the ash.
A health advisory committee conducted a review on the ash impacts but was unable to make a recommendation on accepting ash as cover due to a lack of information on the potential health impacts of incinerator ash.
Knolls says she feels there are too many unanswered questions and could not support the contract.
Legislator Tom Hartnett, who chairs the Solid Waste Committee, says the county has researched the issue for several months. The material is approved by the DEC for use as cover. Hartnett says the county needs to do something to stem the on-going losses at the landfill and this is a step in that direction. The landfill loses nearly $800 thousand dollars per year due in part to low trash volumes and on-going debt payments on prior landfill expansions.
Legislator Linda Jones questioned why the committee is rushing to a decision on the ash for cover. She urged the committee to table the contract for further study.
Legislator Charlie Sudbrink said the ash for the cover contract is not a permanent solution for the landfill but will help improve finances in the near term.
The final vote on the contract will go before the full legislature next Thursday.
Here is the health advisory committees report….Advisory-Board-recommendationsNov102015_ABK