A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 November 8, 1990

Rome, Oneida County, New York

Part two

200 tpd mass-burn incinerator, on-line since December 1984
Pollution Controls: Electrostatic-precipitator (ESP)
July 1990 dioxin test emissions are 8 times higher than allowable permit limit.

The history of the Rome incinerator has a special place in the history of citizen opposition to incinerators in the U.S. The Rome-Floyd Citizens Assoc. occupied the no-man’s land between being too late because of poor state policy and too early to be helped by the mainstream of national opposition to incinerators. They had to trailblaze opposition to incineration against tremendous odds. Despite the fact that they lost their own battle to stop the Rome incinerator, what they learned was shared with other groups and helped the early networking which eventually led to nation-wide opposition to incineration. See Videoactive Productions W.O.W. Video #2.

Some background on the Rome incinerator: Residents first learned about the incinerator project in 1980 through a newspaper report and soon formed the Rome-Floyd Residents Assoc.(RFRA) to oppose its construction. For the last 10 years the RFRA have written newsletters to share their research into incineration with their community and to give updates on upcoming meetings and fundraisers. By the time residents won the fight for a “limited” environmental impact statement (EIS) the steam purchase agreement and waste disposal agreements had already been signed, and the incinerator site had been bought. Through the passage of the NY SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) Act in 1978, projects such as incinerators are subject to an environmental assessment review. This was not the case for the Rome incinerator because it had been “grandfathered”, i.e., any project which was started prior to the passage of the NY SEQR Act, and in which substantial amounts of time and money were spent prior to the passage of the Act, would be grandfathered. The Rome-Floyd Residents Assoc. argued against the ‘grandfather’ status, but the state found that the trash authority did invest substantial time and money. The citizens eventually were granted a “limited” EIS. It was difficult for the residents to understand this decision when the County had spent only $100,000 on the $15 million project up to that time of the RFRA involvement, and that the grandfathered project was not the Rome incinerator proposal, but another failed RDF proposal for another site! The EIS was limited due to the fact that it excluded comments on the technology and the siting of the Rome incinerator. The residents had to fight every inch of the way to input their concerns. They received some concessions, such as the limited environmental impact assessment, a higher stack, and an ESP for pollution control. With these concessions, the trash authority in turn, accused the residents of costing the county money. Battelle Columbus Laboratories of Ohio, the county’s consultants, prepared the final environmental impact statement in 1982 which concluded that there would be no significant impact on the environment from the Rome incinerator. The county’s Environmental Management Council (EMC) supported the incinerator. The executive director of the trash authority is Hans Arnold, former EMC program manager, and the vice-chairperson of the trash authority is Barbara Freeman, formerly the chair of the EMC. Within the first year the original four incinerator stacks had to be replaced because of severe corrosion and the grates had to be replaced because of severe buckling. There was a lot of equipment replacement. The tip fee was originally slated at $7 per ton and when the incinerator opened the tip fee was $11 per ton. The tip fee is now $60 per ton, with a new tip fee probable in January 1991. The incinerator was built and operated by Oneida County and in 1989 operations were transferred to the new two-county Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority. The population of the two counties is approx. 320,000 generating an estimated 821 tpd of waste, which includes construction & debris waste.

LOCATION OF THE INCINERATOR: Adjacent to the Griffiss Air Force Base (incinerator steam in supplied to Griffiss AFB). Within one mile: several housing projects, an active farm, air force hospital, and wetlands. Within two miles: a junior high school and an elementary school, and within five miles a few dairy farms. Griffiss Air Force Base has at least 5 landfills on base and a number of those are now on the federal EPA Superfund list. Because of severe groundwater pollution in the area, the air force delivers approx. 24 gallons of water each week to more than 700 families living near the base whose wells have been polluted. In April 1990 “the Air Force admitted Griffiss was the source of most of the cancer-causing pollutants that contaminated wells in the village of Floyd, which borders the base” and on July 2, 1990, Gov. Cuomo “announced the Air Force and the state had worked out an agreement in which the Air Force would pay the estimated $100 million it will take to clean up hazardous wastes blamed for contaminating civilian wells...Tests have shown several wells near the base contain ethylene-gycol in amounts higher than those allowed by the state. Ethylene-gycol is an anti-freeze and de-icer used on the B-52 bombers based at Griffiss, home of the 416th Bombardment Wing since 1960...” Syracuse Post-Standard, NY, 7-3-90, pg. 6.

LANDFILL: The incinerator ash is going to the Tannery Road Landfill in Rome, operated by the trash authority. This is the same landfill site (formerly known as the Rome City Landfill) that, prior to accepting incinerator ash, had contaminated groundwater in the area, and is listed on NY’s registry of inactive hazardous waste sites. A 5-acre cell, with double-liners and a leachate system, was built adjacent to this site, and has now been filled. A second 5-acre cell was opened in 1989, and before it was opened the support wall, (called a gabion wall, which are stones encased in a wire mesh), partially collapsed during construction (this 5-acre cell was designed by Wehran Engineering). The gabion wall is situated behind the earthern berm, and is used as a support wall for the berm. The 1989 cell cost approximately a half-million dollars, and is a lined, double composite landfill with a leachate collection system. According to John Kenna of NY DEC Region 6, there are no monitoring wells for this half-million dollar 5-acre cell “because it was already built on a contaminated site. If a monitoring well was down you couldn’t tell where the contamination was coming from. You couldn’t monitor the ash landfill from those wells.” The leachate from the incinerator ash landfill is treated at the Rome sewage treatment plant. The liquids from the sewage treatment plant are discharged into the Mohawk River and the solids are landfilled at the Tannery Road Landfill in Rome - the same landfill where the incinerator ash goes!

FUTURE PLANS. The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority has hired William F. Cosulich to work on a draft generic environmental impact statement for a 2-county total waste management program, which includes a proposal to expand the incinerator to 400-500 tpd, burn up to 25 tpd of medical waste, mandatory recycling, C&D processing/reclamation/landfill, composting of yard waste, and a new landfill. The new proposal is currently estimated at $155 million to $200 million. The authority plans to open in early 1991 a 200 tpd recycling facility in Utica. In February 1990 the Oneida-Herkimer waste authority sold $42.8 million in revenue bonds. A $10.6 million general obligation bond was sold by Oneida County for the construction of the incinerator. Oneida County received a $3.5 million grant from the NY State Environmental Quality Bond Act of 1972 to subsidize the construction of the incinerator.


“...Makin and Stone are members of Ogden Project’s board...Mr. Makin, 33 years old, a managing director and general counsel, assumes additional responsibility for construction opertions, legal and financial aspects at Ogden Projects, and its hazardous waste management subsidiary, Ogden Environmental Services. Mr. Stone, 43, a managing director of implementation, will assume responsibility for marketing, project implementation, and enviornmental and engineering activities. Ogden Projects develops and operates facilities that convert solid waste to energy. The parent provides energy and enviornmental consulting, as well as support services to airports and airlines.” Wall Street Journl, 11-7-90, pg. B8. Note: Readers might recall that it was Scott Makin who wrote to the Orillia, Canada, doctors in July 1990, threatening litigation over their report, “Hazards of Incineration”.

WASTE NOT # 124 A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Individual $40; Students & Seniors $35; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian Subscriptions $US45. Editors: Paul & Ellen Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.