SLG Calls on First Female Gov to Shut Down Landfill Dumping on the Birthplace of Women's Rights

New York's Largest Landfill Poisoning the Water + Air of Seneca Falls when Women's Rights Are Under Attack Nationally

SENECA FALLS, NY (07/19/2022) (readMedia)-- Today Governor Hochul celebrated the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, honoring the "trailblazing New Yorkers who came before us" while women's rights are under attack nationally. Seneca Falls is also home to the State's largest landfill, called "Seneca Meadows," which is permitted to accept 6,000 tons of waste and produce up to 200,000 gallons of polluted leachate – formed when rainwater filters through waste – per day.

Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian, issued the following statement in response:

"Governor Hochul is right to celebrate the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention – it's because of that first gathering that we even have a female governor of New York State now. But that physical history in Seneca falls is marred by the largest landfill in the State, which is poisoning the Finger Lakes. Owned by Texas-based Waste Connections, the Seneca Meadows landfill is polluting our water and air, while pumping a putrid odor far and wide and threatening our $3 billion, 60,000 job agritourism industry. It would be a shame to see the first female Governor of New York spend millions of tax dollars building up the region's economy, without doing anything to shut down the out-of-state company that's literally dumping on the birthplace of women's rights, especially at a time when women's rights are under fire nationally. We're calling on Governor Hochul to continue to take bold climate action, and direct the DEC to close the landfill in Seneca Falls in 2025, as previously planned."


Seneca Meadows Inc. Landfill

The Seneca Meadows landfill, located in Seneca Falls, the birthplace of American Women's Rights, is the largest of 27 landfills in New York State. It is permitted to accept 6,000 tons of waste and produce up to 200,000 gallons of polluted leachate – formed when rainwater filters through waste – per day. A quarter of the landfill is trash from NYC, followed by four other states.

Seneca Meadows was previously required to stop receiving waste and halt operations by December 31, 2025. However, Waste Connections, the parent company of Seneca Meadows Inc., contributed around $280,000 in 2021 to pro-landfill candidates who won seats in Town Board and County races and are now supporting the Valley Infill, SMI's planned seven-story high expansion. The expansion would keep the landfill operating through 2040 with allowable dumping on the Valley Infill (the former toxic Tantalo superfund site), rising another 70 feet into the viewscape.

Even with the planned closure in 2025, the mountain of garbage promises years of problems and remediation that could take generations to mitigate. Waste Connections recently filed documents with the DEC to add 47 acres of new landfill space in the so-called valley infill between its two existing facilities and allow the landfill to continue operating through 2040.

Leachate and wastewater runoff from the landfill contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can cause widespread contamination of drinking water and harmful health impacts. Seneca Meadows produces 75 million gallons of leachate each year which is distributed not just to Seneca Falls but also to Buffalo, Watertown, Chittenango, and Steuben County, contaminating drinking water across the state.

SMI is located two miles from Cayuga-Seneca Canal and three miles from every school in Seneca Falls and Waterloo, exposing students to airborne particulates and unseen gasses known to contribute to respiratory illness, asthma, and migraine headaches. The landfill cannot process all of the methane that is generated and is forced to burn almost a billion cubic feet per year in 5 flares, contributing to climate change.

SMI is harming the Finger Lakes' natural resources that have led to the region being under consideration for a National Heritage Area Designation, and which the $3 billion, 60,000-employee wine and agritourism economy rely on. The odor from the landfill can be smelled from miles away, including at Thruway exit 41, the northern gateway to the Finger Lakes. Large, sustainable employers in the area are finding it difficult to recruit and retain employees, because nobody wants to raise a family near a dangerous landfill.

SMI's expansion is also at odds with the overwhelmingly popular amendment to the New York state constitution passed last year, which guarantees every New Yorker the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment.

About Seneca Lake Guardian

Seneca Lake Guardian is a New York State Not-for-Profit Corporation with 501(c)(3) and is dedicated to preserving and protecting the health of the Finger Lakes, its residents and visitors, its rural community character, and its agricultural and tourist related businesses through public education, citizen participation, engagement with decision makers, and networking with like-minded organizations.