A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 October 1992

in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York:


In 1991 the Hospice of Central New York presented an Award to OGDEN MARTIN in recognition of Ogden’s $Good $Neighbor $Policy. Ogden Martin, with a contested N.Y. State incinerator permit in hand, is planning to build an 810 tpd municipal solid waste incinerator in the town of Onondaga. The town, 4 miles from downtown Syracuse, is located in a valley and has the unique distinction of having the largest percentage of the county’s elderly living within 3 miles of the incinerator site. “The Hospice of Central New York has created an award to annually recognize an organization or individual that demonstrates community initiative. The award was presented this year to Ogden Martin Systems Inc., which is taking steps to build an incinerator for the county. ‘This is an unique example of a corporation that in its efforts to establish itself in the Syracuse area chose to support a program promoting the quality of life in Central New York,’ RJ Richey, community relations coordinator for the hospice, said. The hospice is a private, not-for-profit organization providing compassionate care for terminally ill people and their families. ‘Our goal is to help patients live life as fully as possible with their remaining time, and to ease the trial of the patient’s family during and after this difficult tune [sic],’ Richey said. Sheila Tralins, vice president for implementation for Ogden Martin Systems, accepted the award. Tralins said the firm expects to build a state-of-the-art incinerator that is environmentally and technically sound. ‘We hope that the judge will agree that we do not need more hearings, and that we can start construction during the first quarter of next year,’ she said... ‘My job is to take care of the business and legal work up to the time the first shovel is put in the earth.’ Tralins had been a municipal bond lawyer on Wall Street,... and one of her first tasks in coming into Syracuse was to establish the route Ogden Martin Systems would pursue in becoming a ‘good neighbor’...” The Post-Standard, 10-31-91, p D-8.

GROUNDS FOR THE APPEAL TO THE U.S. EPA ON THE PSD PERMIT ISSUED FOR OGDEN’S INCINERATOR. Ogden Martin received a PSD (Prevention of Significant Deterioration) permit on June 15, 1992 from the N.Y. State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to build an 810 tpd municipal solid waste incinerator in Onondaga County. The county’s environmental groups have appealed the PSD permit to the U.S. EPA on July 14, 1992. Michael Gerrard of Berle, Kass & Case (NYC) is the attorney representing the groups. The following are excerpts from that appeal.

1. The PSD permit is excessively lax in several respects. It allows operational procedures for certain pollution control systems considerably more relaxed than those utilized at other, similar incinerators. Among the concerns: Stack testing for particulate emissions and continuous monitoring requirements are too lax; the permit’s reliance on a 10% opacity limit is technologically outdated; and the control systems for the PSD metals in the permit are not subject to the same ‘optimization testing’ regime as are the mercury and NOx control systems.

2. On 6-27-92 the New York State Legislature repealed the law guaranteeing a six cents per kilowatt hour price for electricity bought from independent power generators. This alteration of the market for energy production in N.Y. State will dramatically change the economics of solid waste disposal. Specifically, the importance of source separation and recycling must now be reconsidered as a more economically efficient aspect of the control technology for the Facility. This will likely lead to a fundamental change in the Facility’s economics, making recycling considerably more attractive relative to incineration than it had been before the new legislative action. By including “energy, environmental, and economic impacts and other costs” as the primary counterbalance to the term “maximum degree of...emission reduction” within the definition of BACT [Best Available Control Technology], 42 U.S.C. §7479(3) (1991), Congress sought to force states to maximize the twin goals of the PSD program. The repeal of the 6 cents law will have an enormous impact on the economics of recycling and incineration in Onondaga County. After years of New York State subsidizing the electricity market for municipal waste incinerators, new analysis must be undertaken to determine what the actual price of a kilowatt hour of electricity sold by resource recovery plants should be in New York. Furthermore, since the applicant can no longer rely on the state to require the electric utility to subsidize its energy production, the economic viability of the incineration project itself becomes open to question. A decrease in the profitability of energy produced through incineration may well cause a change in the composition of Onondaga County’s waste stream, and thus may alter the applicant’s basic assumptions regarding the composition of the facility’s emissions. In Onondaga County, the solid waste management plan relied on by applicants, prepared by the same firm that prepared the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, finds that about 50% of the municipal solid waste stream (by weight) is recyclable with traditional technology; if composting of food, wood and yard waste is included, this figure approaches 75%. The incineration project in Onondaga County is premised on a realizable revenue of $0.06/Kwh produced from a realizable waste stream. These premises are no longer valid. The applicant has repeatedly relied on the subsidized price of $0.06/Kwh to support its argument for building the incinerator. The contract that the trash authority has with the electrical utility [Niagara Mohawk = NIMO] reads: “The agreement provides that NIMO will purchase all of the energy produced by the Facility. The pricing for such delivered energy will be expected to be equal to the greater of the New York State minimum payment to qualifying facilities (currently $0.6/kWh), or a rate defined by the New York Public Service Commission.” While the trash authority contends that it has a viable 6 cents per Kwh contract, a memo by Andy Brigham, spokesman for the trash agency (OCRRA), was written to NY State Assemblyman Michael Bragman, dated 6-28-92, outlining the reasons, why in OCRRA’s opinion, it was essential that the repeal of the $0.06 law not occur. The memorandum (which advocates an exemption of the .06 cents law for OCRRA from the repeal) projects a loss of more than $26,000,000 if the incinerator cannot be assured $0.06/Kwh. This same memorandum projected that tipping fees and tax rates for solid waste disposal might well increase if the repeal occurred.

3. The BACT Analysis for NOx in the Onondaga County Incinerator PSD Permit is invalid because it fails to consider all control technologies for the reduction of nitrogen from the waste stream. The US EPA Administrator, in a ruling on the proposed incinerator for Brooklyn, NY, held that consideration of source separation “should be included as part of the BACT analysis.” The source separation program at the heart of the Onondaga County’s BACT analysis fails to consider such nitrogen containing substances as food wastes or rubber. Food wastes alone comprise 12.8% of Onondaga County’s recoverable recyclables. By failing to consider this rich source of pollution reduction, the applicant failed to determine BACT for NOx.


To meet a NY State incinerator permit requirement, Onondaga County’s trash agency secured a 5-year disposal capacity agreement to send incinerator ash to Chambers landfill in Charles City County, Virginia. Because the financial stability of Chambers is now in jeopardy, the questions is: How secure is the agreement the county entered into? In a front page 10-21-92 article, the Wall Street Journal reported on the financial problems at Chambers. “The charade collapsed yesterday when an outside audit disclosed that in every year since Chambers went public in 1985, the company reported strong profits but actually lost money...‘When you add it all up, they made nothing and sold a lot of securities based on money they didn’t have,’ says Douglas Auenthaler at Oppenheimer & Co. Today, Chambers is scrambling for cash and trying to sell off assets, including its money-losing rent-a-cop security business. It faces a slew of shareholder suits and pending investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the American Stock Exchange...The audit report, prepared by Deloitte & Touche, says the company covered its losses by grossly understating expenses and, in the process, violating generally accepted accounting principles...According to the restated numbers announced yesterday, the company’s losses were $16 million, or 32 cents a share, in 1989; $41 million, or 74 cents a share, in 1990, and $72 million, or $1.21 a share, in 1991...Former employees say Mr. Rangos Sr.’s [President of Chambers] relentless push for corporate growth led to an environment in which manipulating numbers was tolerated, if not encouraged...The Rangoses recruited local politicians to help Chambers with permits. They hired two Virginia state legislators to lobby citizens’ groups opposed to Chambers’ landfill application. They also hired the head of environmental prosecutions [Steve Madonna] for New Jersey, where Chambers has some of its biggest waste-hauling contracts...Mr.Madonna has since returned to New Jersey’s government as state environmental prosecutor...” [For a copy of the Wall Street Journal article, please send a SASE to Waste Not.]

Onondaga’s Commissioner of Health calls for off-site monitoring of incinerator emissions. But, the County Legislature does not have the money in its budget to fund it; the County’s trash agency, after spending millions on consultants, won’t fund it; nor will Ogden Martin, recently honored by Syracuse’s Hospice, fund it. The following memo was written by the Commissioner of Health of the Onondaga County Department of Health, James R. Miller M.D., to John Mitchell, chairman, Health Committee of the Onondaga County Legislature, on 6-9-92. A part of the memo is reprinted below.

“Justification for Off-Site Incinerator Monitoring. Why Monitoring is Necessary

A Potentially Hazardous Chemicals Will Escape Continuously from the Stack. (1) Respiratory irritants such as SO2 and HCL. (2) Carcinogens, such as arsenic, dioxins and cadmium. (3) Other toxins, such as lead and mercury.

B. Uncertainties. (1) Variation in composition of waste stream. (2) Lack of information regarding background levels of metals and organic chemical contaminants from past industrial activities. (3) Imprecision and unverified assumptions are necessary aspects of any health risk assessment. (4) Predictions of air impact model may be inaccurate due to complex topography. (5) Lack of information about long-term accumulation of incinerator wastes in soil and food chain.

C. Shortcomings of Stack Testing Data. (1) Provides inadequate number and frequency of samples of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium and organic contaminants, such as dioxins. (2) Provides no information about actual dispersion into the surrounding area. (3) Provides no information about actual deposition, long term accumulation, and incorporation into the food chain.” [For a copy of the full memo, please send a SASE to Waste Not.]

For more information contact: Sharon Sherman, 315-449-1318; Sam Sage, 315-475-1170; or Vicki Baker,315-469- 5347.

WASTE NOT # 213. A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian $US45; Overseas $65. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.