A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 May 1992
PART 1: The incinerator that the old-boy-system
A two county project of Washington & Warren Counties. Foster Wheelers MSW incinerator in Hudson Falls is grossly oversized in a grossly overpolluted area in New York State. With put or pay contracts in hand, the 2-counties can barely deliver 150 tons-per-day (tpd) of waste to a 400 tpd incinerator that wants to burn 450 tpd. Though this is a 2-county project with a combined population of 118,500, it is Washington County (population 59,330) that has 20 years of financial liability to repay the $86 million bonds for the 400 tpd incinerator while Warren County only has obligations to share expenses for the incinerator operations for the first year only. The army of consultants, lawyers, financial advisors and New York State officials, united by conflicts of interest, have produced an incinerator project that has thrust the 2-counties into a whirlwind of chaos while scavenging for waste from anyone who will send it. Since the incinerator went on line six months ago all efforts to find enough garbage from a 3-state-area to make up a 250 tpd shortfall have failed thus allowing Foster Wheeler to accept discrete waste: waste from industrial and commercial facilities. The tip fee for imported waste, as set by Foster Wheeler, is $40 per ton, while the 2-counties have to pay $75 per ton. For the first 6 months ash went to the CID Landfill in Chaffee, NY, 300 miles away from Hudson Falls. Cost to transport and dispose the ash: a minimum of $92 a ton. In June arrangements were made to send 50% of the ash to the unlined Albany, NY, landfill (approx. 45 miles away). This landfill has no leachate collection and also takes the ash from the disastrously run 400 tpd Albany incinerator. Washington & Warren counties do not have enough $$ to pay the $850,000 monthly bills and have begun using taxpayer dollars to subsidize an incinerator that in turn subsidizes imported waste. Several new lawsuits in 1992 have helped Hudson Falls become the most litigated msw incinerator in the U.S.
Siting of the incinerator is in the Village of Hudson Falls in Washington County. The incinerator is situated in the middle of a dense residential neighborhood and abuts the Hudson River. The Hudson River has been gravely contaminated by 30 years (1946-1976) of PCB dumping from the General Electric plants in Hudson Falls (which operated up to 1977) and neighboring Fort Edward, which are within one mile of each other. Because of G.E.s massive dumping of an estimated 1/2 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River from these two plants the river is the nations most PCB-polluted waterway.-(New York Times , 5-16-90, pg.B-1 and NYT, 1-27-91). G.E., bringing good things to you, also scattered over one million pounds of PCBs within the county. According to Moodys Municipal Credit Report of 1-17-89: Washington County is a large agricultural county north of Albany, economic base is limited, amongst the poorest counties in the state on per capita income basis. Within 1/2 mile of the incinerator: reservoir for Hudson Falls drinking water, 10-story senior citizens housing complex and a greenhouse. Within 1 mile an elementary school and the Kingsbury Landfill which has over the years received approx. 225,000 pounds of PCBs. Within 5 miles: dairy farms, pasture lands, and a planned contaminated soil incinerator to be located in Fort Edward (proposed by the the Hudson Falls incinerator developer, Robert Barber). The Adirondack Park is within 8 miles; Lake George is within 10 miles. State health advisories on consumption of fish from Lake Champlain, approx.20 miles north of Hudson Falls, were in effect before the incinerator went on line due to PCB and mercury contamination.
Owner & Operator: Adirondack Resource Recovery Corp. (ARRC) which is 80% owned by FOSTER WHEELER and 20% owned by North American Recycling Systems*. NARS is owned by: local waste haulers Robert Barber (71%) & Michael J. Serra (2%) and by Conversion Industries of Pasadena, CA, which has a 27% share. NARS was formed in June 1991 to serve as the corporate parent of five companies* founded by Barber. The ARRC was founded in September 1984 (3 months before bonds were issued). ARRC derives payment of $120,000 a year and 22.5% of energy revenue from the incinerator. A little background: Robert Barber (18% share in incinerator) developed the incinerator project and in the early stages he brought in developers Babcock & Wilcox, Katy Seghers, Vicon and then Foster Wheeler. According to Barber, founder of ARRC, he owns the largest waste disposal operation between Albany and Canada. Barber is proposing to build a contaminated soil incinerator in Fort Edward, next door to Hudson Falls. William L. Nikas was the leading spokesperson for the incinerator project while he was the Solid Waste Chairman for Washington County and Chairman of the Washington County Board of Supervisors from 1981-1988. Nikas serves as general counsel and senior vice president of NARS. Michael J. Serra, a silent voice in the operation, is estimated to own 2% of the incinerator. Bob Flacke, a former Commissioner of the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation, is on Board of Directors. * Other Barber enterprises include: North American Recycling Corp. Barber owns 71%, Conversion Industries owns 27% and Michael Serra owns 2%. Has applied to the NY DEC for a permit to operate a $2.1 million C&D facility at the Port of Rensselaer. North American Plastics Recycling, Founded by Barber in August 1990 to own and operate plastic recycling facilities. Its first plant, a $3.5 million project, is nearing completion at Energy Park, in Fort Edward. Energy Park is a 405-acre industrial park project owned by Barber and William Nikas, North American Pulp & Paper Corp., formed by Barber in August 1990 to own and operate a plant to convert post-consumer paper into high-grade recycled pulp. The first phase of the project, a $1.3 million warehouse facility, is under construction at Energy Park. The second phase, a $55 million, 210-ton-a-day recycled fiber pulp mill, will be a joint project with Kamyr Inc. of Glens Falls. North American Soil Recycling Corp. was formed in Oct. 1991 to own and operate a $4.5 million plant at Energy Park to recycle [sic: incinerate] petroleum-contaminated soil. NARS and D.A. Collins Construction Co.. Inc. of Mechanicville each own 50% of the company. *From the Albany Capital Business Review, Dec. 2-8, 1991, pg 32
In 1985 & 1986 the N.Y. State Legislature passed 2 extraordinary laws that exempted Washington County from competitive bidding. In 1985 the New York State Legislature passed a special law that applies only to Washington County. Laws of 1985 Chapter 682 exempted Washington County from public bidding or the Request for Proposals procedures in General Municipal Law 120-w that applied to all other counties in the State. Laws of 1985 Chapter 682 provided that Washington County could enter into a waste disposal contract with the Warren and Washington Counties IDA for a county waste disposal facility without a bidding or an RFP process provided that construction of the burn plant was commenced before January 1, 1987. Construction of the burn plant was not commenced before January 1, 1987. Later the State Legislature passed Laws of 1986 Chapter 526, which provided that Washington County would be exempt from the bidding and RFP process if the requirements contract between the county and the IDA was entered into by July 1, 1987. However, the waste disposal contracts...were not entered into by July 1, 1987. As of July 1, 1987, Washington and Warren Counties had no legal authority to enter into waste disposal agreements with the IDA because the time period set forth in Laws of 1986 Chapter 526 had lapsed as of July 1, 1987... 5-6-92 Letter from Lewis B. Oliver, Jr., of Oliver & Oliver, Albany, NY to Joseph McPhillips.
Bond Underwriters: Smith-Barney, Harris Upham & Co. Inc., New York City. Smith Barney hired Bartley J. Costello III, of the law firm Hinman, Straub, Pigors & Manning to act as their lobbyist in the N.Y. State Legislature during 1986-1989 when special laws regarding waste disposal in Washington County were passed. This same attorney was hired by Washington County in 1989 to review the incinerator contracts that Washington County entered into. Costello said there was no way for the County to get out of the incinerator contracts. It was Smith Barney who recommended to Washington County in 1984 that they hire Roy F. Weston as consultant for the project. They did and Westons work led to a grossly oversized incinerator project. On 10-10-88 Walter Kulakowski of Smith Barney sent the following memo to members of the Washington County Board of Supervisors (Burch, Edwards, Rota, Rozell), 18 days before the vote on the incinerator contract: I have enclosed a copy of some recent testimony from Paul Connett, who is likely to speak at Wednesdays meeting. The testimony will give you some flavor of the type of sensationalism that Connett will provide. Refer to pages 454 to 476 for a discussion regarding Connetts lack of expertise to testify. Please call me at (212)-698-3924 if you have any questions on this or any aspect of the project. Smith Barney, as potential bond underwriters for a proposed $200 million Ogden Martin incinerator in Fort Myers, Lee County, FL, acted in a similar self-serving fashion. Prior to a county-sponsored 2-day incinerator symposium held in Fort Myers in April 1991, Smith Barney gathered many of the incinerator advocates who were panelists at the symposium, mostly the financial ones, at their Philadelphia office, to discuss the symposium. (See Waste Not #150.)
ROY F. WESTON: Left holding the bag for grossly oversizing Hudson Falls incinerator. Weston were the consultants to Washington county from 1984-1988. After the contracts were signed in October 1988 Weston was hired by the 2-county IDA to oversee the project. Smith Barney, bond underwriters for the incinerator project, had recommended Roy F. Weston to Washington Countys Board of Supervisors in 1984. Weston were the consultants responsible for the grossly exaggerated waste generation figures. The two counties can only deliver 150 tpd to the 400 tpd incinerator. The shortfall of trash has resulted in a devastating financial situation for Washington County. Weston had at least 4 years to remedy the oversizing issue as it was this very issue that was so pivotal to citizens opposition from 1985 on.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephanie Wenk at 518-692-7595 or Mel MacKenzie at 518-692-9626, both with the Greenwich Citizens Committee, or Bob Daly of the Concerned Citizens of Hudson Falls and Kingsbury at 518-747-4418.