A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 April 1992
This is the first time in the history of N.Y.s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that a permit to build a municipal waste incinerator has been denied. On April 7, 1992, Thomas Jorling, DEC Commissioner, denied the permit for Foster Wheelers proposed incinerator in Broome County on the grounds that it was oversized -population of the county is approx. 211,000. Prior to this decision, Jorling had ruled in December 1991 that the County, in order to obtain the permit, would have to choose one of the following options: 1. Downsize the incinerator by a factor of 50,000 tons per year; or, 2. Secure binding contracts for 50,000 tons per year of imported waste, which could include medical waste. (Citizens had demonstrated, during a DEC-run adjudicatory hearing on Broomes incinerator, that Broome Countys recycling plan was inadequate to achieve the states mandated 40% recycling by 1997. To resolve this issue, Jorling used the downsizing option to insure the 40% recycling rate.) Foster Wheeler did not want to downsize, and opted for importation, and try as they could, they could not get binding contracts for imported waste. When the importation issue entered the incinerator debate - which up to this time had been the most controversial issue in Broome Countys history- the debate soared to its most dramatic pitch. At the same time the Broome County Legislators were battling their citizens to protect Foster Wheelers decision to import, the oversized Foster Wheeler 400 tpd incinerator in Hudson Falls, NY, which went on line in November 1991, was in crisis mode over lack of waste and an inability to procure it! Foster Wheelers Hudson Falls incinerator (a 2-county venture of Warren & Washington Counties -located north of Albany, which Waste Not #194 will cover] was begging waste from all over the state. No one knew this better than Foster Wheeler. The most likely reason not to downsize was to avoid a loss in Foster Wheelers corporate profits. To accommodate Foster Wheeler the Broome County Legislators had to vote to rescind a 1988 county law which banned imported waste from entering the county. Broome legislators were under siege with citizens packing the meetings, opposing any size incinerator, and Broome Countys trade unions campaigning to build the incinerator. On February 6, Broomes Legislators voted 12-7 to approve importing waste, thus overturning the 1988 anti-importation law. The new law allowing importation included a trash-for-ash stipulation for the importing municipalities. Within 10 days of this vote Tim Grippen, Broomes County Executive, vetoed the Legislatures 2-6-92 vote to import waste. The Legislators needed a 2/3rds vote to override Grippen's veto. On February 20th the Legislators voted on the override and lost it by one vote. (Legislator Daniel Schofield switched his vote, which was the first time since the Republicans, with a 15-4 majority in the Legislature, didnt get their way. Citizens in Schofields district had an active petition drive in his district. The petition stated that if Schofield voted in favor of importation, residents would vote him out of office in the next election. Activists met with him to discuss the petition the night before the vote.) After this vote the Legislators, who fought so hard for Foster Wheeler, said they never wanted to have another vote on the incinerator again. The Broome County Resource Recovery Agency (BCRRA), a co-applicant in the DEC permit process to build the incinerator, and dependent on County-approved financing, found themselves penniless and in great debt. BCRRA ground to a halt and shut down their offices by the end of March. It is estimated that BCRRA spent $5 million in the incinerator pursuit, and has outstanding debts that may be as much as $1 million. BCRRAs director John Jack Guinan was set loose to hunt down a new job. (Guinan was appointed director of the Countys trash agency by former pro-incinerator County Executive, Carl Young. In April Guinan accepted the position of Executive Director of the Coastal Regional Solid Waste Authority -a 3-county area along the Atlantic- near the city of Newborn, NC.) The prolonged 6-year involvement and sheer hard work that the residents and environmental groups in Broome County brought to bear to stop this incinerator is the main reason that this incinerator was defeated. Citizens involvement in this issue was intensive: door-to-door canvassing; leafletting at every major County event; forming a coalition to unite the different groups; community presentations to civic clubs, schools, environmental groups; litigation; individual lobbying of legislators; public forums; 800 people attended a 13-hour meeting when DECs Jorling came to the County in the summer of 1990 to hear what issues the residents had; coupled with enormous time and effort into preparing for the DEC-run adjudicatory hearings. The NY DEC offered Broome County over $8 million from the 1972 New York State Environmental Bond to help build the incinerator only if they got the permit! (New York State had targeted over $200 million from the 1972 bond money to promote state-wide incineration.) The election of Tim Grippen as County Executive, who ran on an anti-incinerator platform in Nov. 1988, against the powerful Carl Young, was the first victory for incinerator opponents in Broome County. Grippen retained, throughout the years, the most essential quality needed for public office: integrity.
Incinerator Owner: Broome County Resource Recovery Agency (BCRRA)
Incinerator permit co-applicants: Foster Wheeler and BCRRA
Builder & Operator: Foster Wheeler (John Brown, Project Manager.)
Major consultants: HDR
Siting Consultants: Metcalf & Eddy
Health Risk Assessment: ROY F. WESTON and KONHEIM & KETCHUM
Foster Wheelers Attorney: LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby & MacRae. (Dennis P. Harkawik, lead attorney)
Bond Attorneys: Hawkins, Dellafield & Wood
Bond Anticipation Notes: Dillon, Reed & Co. (Investment banking firm - N.Y. City)
LOCAL ATTORNEY FOR THE BROOME COUNTY RESOURCE RECOVERY AGENCY (BCRRA): John E. (Ed) Murray of Ball, McDonough & Johnson, PC. Murray was Broomes County Attorney under Carl Young, former pro-incinerator County Executive. Murray is now working as a counsel with the law firm of Levene, Gouldin & Thompson.
LOCAL ATTORNEY FOR FOSTER WHEELER: William E.
Shamulka was the local attorney for Foster Wheelers
incinerator subsidiary in Broome County. Shamulka had been an
aide to the powerful Republican N.Y. State Senator, Warren
Anderson. Anderson (see below) was a supporter of the incinerator.
INCINERATOR SITING: Proposed to be built on the
outskirts of the industrial park in the town of Kirkwood,
population 5,600, approx. 3 miles from Binghamton. In 1982 Metcalf
& Eddy selected Kirkwood as the third most preferable
site to build an incinerator. The county acquired the incinerator
site by right of eminent domain. Within 1-mile of the site:
a major recharge aquifer for the Susquehanna River, which is the
major source of drinking water for the city of Binghamton (Broomes
largest city). Within a 5-mile radius of the site: a NY State-listed
superfund C&D site (high levels of TCE in part of Kirkwoods
drinking water), 3 elementary schools, Jr./High School, Nursing
Home, Binghamton Psychiatric Hospital, 1 dairy farm, 1 beef farm,
and recreational fishing. The Kirkwood Town Board set up a Citizens
Advisory Committee in Sept. 1986 to educate the citizens
on incineration but abruptly dissolved it in April 1987.
The majority of Kirkwood residents were opposed to the incinerator.
Art Shafer, County Legislator representing Kirkwood & Kirkwoods
Town Supervisor, Joe Griffin, were pro-burn.
ATTORNEY FOR TOWN OF KIRKWOOD: Robert Kaffin
was retained by the town of Kirkwood in 1984 as Kirkwoods
environmental attorney. In 1984 Mr. Kaffin was
an attorney for the Adirondack Resource Recovery Associates,
the owner of Foster Wheelers 400 tpd incinerator
in Hudson Falls, Warren County, NY. On October 19, 1988,
Broome County signed the incinerator contract with Foster Wheeler.
Blount, Ogden Martin & Foster Wheeler
competed for the Broome contract.
HOST COMMUNITY BENEFITS: The town of Kirkwood would
receive 10% of the total project cost over the life of the project.
Host benefits would have resulted in $10 million for Kirkwood.
ASH LANDFILL: BCRRA signed a letter of intent
with Chambers Landfill in Charles City County, VA. The
county wanted to use the county-owned Nanticoke landfill. Because
it was close to the airport, the DEC said they couldnt landfill
raw garbage and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) said they
couldnt landfill incinerator ash. U.S. Congressman Alfonse
DAmato intervened and persuaded the FAA to allow the
landfilling of incinerator ash. Still, the Nanticoke landfill
did not have 5-year disposal capacity, a requirement for incinerator
permits, so the Chambers Landfill option was secured.
Because the BCRRA entered into an agreement with Chambers
Landfill by sidestepping State Municipal law by not soliciting
competitive bids, the NY Public Interest Research Group
litigated against the BCRRA. That litigation is still
in the courts
MAJOR PROPONENTS: BCRRA; the old-line Republican
party in Broome; 12 out of 19 County legislators; the Binghamton
Building & Construction Trades Council, which ran full
page ads in support of the incinerator prior to important County
Legislature meetings; NY State Senator Warren Anderson
who was Majority Leader of the NY State Senate from 1973-1988
and was a NY State Senator from 1953-1988; and County Legislator
Emile Bielecki. When Bielecki was running for re-election in
1990, there was a lot of activity in his district against the
incinerator. Bielecki announced in Oct. 1990 that he was against
the incinerator. He was re-elected in November 1990, and then
quickly changed his position back to pro-incinerator. Bielecki
plans to run against Grippen for County Executive in this years
MAJOR OPPONENTS: New York Public Interest Research
Group (Alicia Culver, Laurie Valeriano, Larry Shapiro); R.E.C.Y.C.L.E.
(Audrey Glover & John Smigelski); Citizen Action
in Binghamton (John Stouffer, Joe McCormack, Maryanne Dorner).
These three groups formed the coalition Dont Burn Broome.
Broome County Executive Tim Grippen; Nanticoke Landfill
Citizens Advisory Committee; The League of Women Voters
(Kathy Moreland & Ruth Levin) opposed the incinerator because
of competition with recyling and economics. The Susquehanna Chapter
of the Sierra Club; & GARBAGE, an organization
that was formed to defeat a 1980 incinerator proposal for the
Village of Endicott.
CURRENT LITIGATION: Since the permit was
denied on 4-7-92 Foster Wheeler has notified the County
of its intent to sue for reimbursement of $15 million, citing
a penalty clause in the Foster Wheeler contract with Broome
FOR MORE INFO. CONTACT: John Stouffer, 607-723-0110; Alicia Culver, 718-965-9506; Audrey Glover 607-775-3176.