A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 Dec. 1993 to Jan. 1994

A Review, by State, of Operating Municipal Solid Waste Incinerators.
# 18: Oswego to Queens, NEW YORK

The 18th of our 24-part series continues the review of waste-to-energy MSW incinerators, including references to Waste Not issues. Vendor/Operator from GAA’s 1993 edition. Type: M=Mass Burn; R=RDF. Tons-Per-Day is incinerator design capacity. APC = Air Pollution Controls: 1-ESP. 2-Baghouse. 3-Dry Scrubber. 4-NOx Control. 5-Wet Scrubber.


LOCATION O = OPERATOR Type APC On-Line 1988 1991 1993

NY Oswego Co.80 V: CONSUMAT. O: County M 1 1986 200 200 200

Peekskill81 V/O: WHEELABRATOR M. 1 1984 2250 2250 2250

Poughkeepsie82 V/O: WESTINGHOUSE M 2,3 1988 500 500 500

Queens, L.I.83* V: N.A. O: NY City M 1 1964 400* 400* -

80. Volney, Oswego County, New York. NY State gave $4.583 million from the 1972 Environmental Quality Bond Act to subsidize this incinerator. Local citizens complain of black smoke, odors, soot and ash falling on their property, and respiratory problems. Off-the-record local doctors have seen an increase in asthma cases among children. After about 50 citizens put their complaint into a petition, the NY State Dept. of Health performed a health risk assessment for dioxin (inhalation pathway only!). Poorly executed testing of the local environment by the DEC has proved inconclusive. A complicating factor is the fact that the incinerator is located next to an Armstrong factory and each point their finger at the other with respect to air emission complaints. Citizens are still trying to have this incinerator closed down. In a review of incinerator test emission results this incinerator ranked highest in Sulfur Dioxide emissions out of 12 incinerators; second in dioxin/furan emissions out of 7 incinerators, and second highest in Hydrogen Chloride and Lead emissions out of 9 incinerators that INFORM had data on. Ref: Burning Garbage in the US, Practice vs State of the Art, eds. Clarke, de Kadt, Saphire, published in 1991 by INFORM, Inc., 381 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10016-4040, Tel: 212-689-4040. For more information contact Christine & Howard Rose, 5 Rose Lane, Fulton, NY 13069, Tel: 315-593-7151. See also WN# 21.

81. Peekskill, Westchester County, New York. NY State gave $34.865 million from the 1972 Environmental Quality Bond Act to subsidize this incinerator owned and operated by Wheelabrator. It has operated with ESPs as the only pollution control device. Approval to add scrubbers to the incinerator has recently been given, but no time frame as to when. The most active citizens following this incinerator are those who live near the ash landfill in Cortlandt. Citizens’ concern center on the increased toxicity of the ash when the scrubbers are added. Within the last two years a 1-mile pipe was laid to run the leachate from the landfill in Cortlandt to the Peekskill sewage treatment center. Before then, the leachate was trucked to the Yonkers sewage treatment plant.

If the politics got out of the way,’ says Alfred Del Bello, ‘we’d be burning garbage into energy all over the U.S.” Forbes, July 1,1985.
Del Bello was Governor Mario Cuomo’s first Lieutenant Governor; former Mayor of Yonkers and Westchester County Executive.
He resigned as Lt. Gov. of NY to become President of Signal Environmental Systems, a subsidiary of Wheelabrator.

According to the Albany Times Union of Oct 7, 1986: “The Westchester plant has turned out to be one of the most controversial new incinerators in the nation - not because of any operating problems, but rather because of Signal’s relationship with two county officials. Signal’s contract with Westchester County was negotiated in the late 1970s when DelBello was county executive. In November 1982, two years before the plant began operating, DelBello was elected lieutenant governor. In December 1984, DelBello announced he was resigning from office to become president and chief executive officer of Signal Environmental Systems. That raised speculation about whether he had discused a job with Signal at the same time he was negotiating the contract for the incinerator. One aspect of the contract that fueled such speculation was a section which guaranteed Signal at least six cents per kilowatt-hour for the electricity generated at the plant. If Signal couldn’t get that rate from the utilities, they county would have to make up the difference....When oil prices plummeted last year, Consolidated Edison reduced the price it would pay Signal...and Westchester’s taxpayers had to foot the $9 million shortfall that resulted. The county is expected to have to pay several million more this year...Three months ago DelBello left the Signal presidency to become senior vice president of its parent company, Wheelabrator Technologies Inc....Signal’s involvement with another Westchester County official -deputy commissioner of solid waste management Edward Davies -raised even more questions. Davies was the county official in charge of the design, funding, permit processing and construction of the plant. Among his decisions was one supporting a request to the state allowing the incinerator to give off higher-levels of pollution than it was originally permitted. This action, taken after a test showed the plant couldn’t meet its pollution limits, saved Signal millions of dollars in additional pollution-control equipment. Less than a month after the plant opened, Davies resigned. Two months later he began work as Signal’s regional manager for northern N.J., N.Y. City and Long Island...” Big Money fuels political side of trash incinerators.

The incinerator abuts the Hudson River and is close to the Indian Point nuclear power plant. According to a comparison of test emission results by the group INFORMa: the incinerator ranked highest in Mercury and Hydrogen Chloride emissions compared creasing net losses to the county each year of the plant’s operation with no indication the trend will be reversed. So far, those sales have cost the county almost $30 million. This loss resulted from a miscalculation when county officials -in drawing up the plant’s energy contract during the early 1980s- assumed that oil prices would continue their then-skyrocketing pace...” For more information contact Sharon Sweeney, Cortlandt WATCH (We Are The Cortlandt Homeowners), PO Box 271, Crompond, NY 10517. Tel: 914-737-3282. See also WN #s 3,73.

82. Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, New York. According to Bob McCarty of the NY DEC in Albany, this incinerator has expressed interest in burning treated medical waste. According to the NY DEC, samples taken in the Fall of 1990 revealed that this plant had the highest levels of mercury in its ash, approx 24 parts per million, out of 6 NY incinerators that DEC reviewed. --p 55, Ash Residue Characterization Project, March 1992, NY DEC, Div. of Solid Waste, Albany, NY. Three incinerators in NY have been built abuting the Hudson River: Poughkeepsie, Hudson Falls and Peekskill. See also WN#s 11 & 36.

83. Betts Avenue, Queens, New York. While there is tremendous opposition to NY City’s proposal to construct a 3,000 tpd Wheelabrator incinerator at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we wanted to make note of the following. According to Arthur Kell of the New York Public Interest Research Group the status of NY City’s old incinerators are:

Bensonhurst, Brooklyn: Shutdown in Fall of 1991.

Betts Avenue, Queens: Shutdown at end of June 1993.

Greenpoint, Brooklyn: 554 tpd . Operational.

While the Brooklyn incinerator at Greenpoint is operational, it is not included in our list, because it’s not a waste-to-energy facility. According to a 1992 report by NY City Comptroller, Elizabeth Holtzman: “...Not one of the [above] plants can use all of its units at the same time. Together they burn only 1,150 tons/day rather than the 2,750 tons/day sum of their design capacities...A 1990 EPA studyb, conducted jointly with New Jersey and New York state environmental agencies assessed emissions from 103 municipal garbage, hospital waste and sewage sludge incinerators -- existing or proposed. It ranked each by degree of concentrated impact on its local area rather than total emissions, with a higher ranking being worse. These three [incinerators] are among the worst in the region. The Greenpoint [Brooklyn] incinerator ranked third on the list of 103 facilities for dioxins, and fourth for lead, even though the report assumed that it burns at most 554 tons/day. Greenpoint ranked higher that several proposed 3,000 ton/day waste incinerators because of poor combustion efficiency, poor pollution control equipment and a very low stack. The Betts [Queens] and Southwest [Bensonhurst] Brooklyn incinerators both scored among the top twenty for dioxin and lead impacts...A large incinerator with a tall stack may disperse emissions over a broader area; therefore, the report sometimes ranked large incinerators below smaller ones in local impact. Also, [NY City] Department of Sanitation notes that a smaller facility’s emissions ‘plume’ is not as buoyant as a larger one’s, and may not disperse as much, even with equal stack heights...”c The incinerator ash went to the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island. Holtzman noted in her report that NY State exempted the incinerators “from the requirement for disposal in a properly designed landfill. The ash is not deposited in a separate part of the landfill, but merely is co-disposed with regular waste.” For more information contact Larry Shapiro or Arthur Kell, New York Public Interest Research Group, 9 Murray Street, NY, NY 10007. Tel: 212-349-6460.

a. Burning Garbage in the US, Practice vs. State of the Art, by Clarke, M., de Kadt, M., Saphire, D., published in 1991 by INFORM, Inc., 381 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10016-8806. Tel: 212-689-4040.

b. Incineration 2000: A Joint Study of Impacts...in the New York-New Jersey Metropolitan Region, Oct 14, 1990. Published by the EPA, NY DEC, NJ DEP. The report dealt with arsenic, cadmium, chromium, dioxin, lead and nickel. Mercury is notably absent.

c. Burn, Baby, Burn: How to Dispose of Garbage by Polluting Land, Sea and Air at Enormous Cost, pp 50-54, by Elizabeth Holtzman, Comptroller. Published in January 1992 by City of NY Office of Comptroller, 1 Centre Street, NY, NY 10007.

WASTE NOT # 268. 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 $US50; Overseas $65. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.