A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 MARCH 1995

The Great Incinerator Ash Scam
Part 4.

Ward Stone: 1st Ash Scam Victim.
The ash from Ogden Martin’s 990 ton-per-day MSW incinerator
in Syracuse, NY, which went on line in November 1994,
was classified as non-hazardous after it passed the TCLP test.
Citizens living close to the landfill, where the ash is used as a daily cover,
surreptitiously retrieved some of this ash and asked
N.Y. State Wildlife Pathologist, Ward Stone,
to test the ash for heavy metals, because the landfill abuts the
Montezuma Wildlife Refuge in Seneca County, NY.
Stone analyzed the ash for total heavy metal content.
The ash was found to contain hazardous levels of lead, cadmium
and mercury. Because of this, Ward Stone, is under attack.

Ogden Martin’s 990 tpd Syracuse incinerator may become the eye of the storm of the incinerator ash scam. This $180 million dollar project is already in deep economic trouble because of a May 1994 U.S. Supreme Court ruling against flow control. According to a March 5, 1995, report in the Syracuse Post-Standard, the trash agency’s “standing on Wall Street is so weak, it probably couldn’t borrow the money needed to build the Van Buren landfill if the land and permits were ready today.” Local officials released a huge sigh of relief when the ash passed the TCLP test. The Post-Standard loudly proclaimed on March 3, 1995, “Ash from trash is ‘safe’...” In the same article, an environmental engineer for the county’s trash agency said: “All of the metals were well below regulatory limits...This is what was expected. We knew the results would be very low.” However, into this celebration party came one Ward Stone, who for the past 26 years has been the Wildlife Pathologist for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and a pain in the side of the regulatory bureaucrats who would prefer to serve the economic interests of New York corporations, rather than the interests of the environment and the tax payers. Again and again, Ward Stone has provided citizens with the data that his bosses would have preferred to have kept under wraps. This was particularly so in the case of the PCB contamination in the wildlife on and around the Akwesasne reservation in NY. The reservation is downwind and downriver of three large corporations: GM, Reynolds Aluminum and Alcoa.

Ward’s interest was aroused by the Syracuse case because the landfill to where the ash is being sent lies next to the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge in Seneca County, NY. In fact, a stream which flows through the landfill drains into the refuge. Citizens supplied ash to Stone for analysis. He not only repeated the TCLP test, but he also had the total content of toxic metals analyzed. As expected, the ash passed the TCLP test, but the absolute levels of several heavy metals (lead, mercury and cadmium) were high. When Ward Stone released this data to the public it attracted a lightening storm of abuse onto his head.

Results from Ward Stone’s Testing for Total Heavy Metals:
The Seneca Meadows landfill accepts ash from Ogden Martin’s 990 tpd incinerator in Syracuse and Foster Wheeler’s 400 tpd incinerator in Hudson Falls, NY.

Metal Tested           Ogden Martin’s         Foster Wheeler’s       Mean Background        

Parts per million -    Syracuse Incinerator   Hudson Falls incin.    Levels                 

ppm                    Ash            ash.                   in U.S.                

LEAD                   1400 ppm               2650 ppm               Soils       

CADMIUM                40.1  ppm              60.3  ppm              35 ppm                 

MERCURY                4.3    ppm             4.1    ppm             0.30 ppm               

                                                                     0.18 ppm               

March 8, 1995                 March 9, 1995                  March 8, 1995                 

“I am outraged by the news    “...What Stone is doing isn’t  “My conclusion after working  

coverage in this morning’s    science.  It’s advocacy...A    with Ward Stone is that he’s  

area newspapers.  A           far more independent analysis  done more harm to the         

representative of your        of the ash comes from the DEC  environment than any single   

Department, namely Ward       itself...Ward Stone doesn’t    individual I’ve ever          

Stone, is quoted as making    speak for the DEC...he should  known...He has a lot of       

several statements about      not use his position to        people who love him, when in  

Onondaga’s ash                capitalize on people’s fears   fact he’s more dangerous      

residues...Are these the      and burnish his own image as   than the polluter.” Robert    

official positions of the     a folk hero.”  Editorial in    Flacke, a former DEC          

New York State Department of  the Post-Standard.             commissioner. Post-Standard.  

Environmental                 March 11, 1995                                               

Conservation?...”  Letter     “Ward Stone’s conduct in this                                

from Onondaga County          has completely been out of                                   

Resource Recovery Agency      line, bordering on the                                       

director, Paul O’Connor, to   criminal.”  William Sanford,                                 

Michael Zagatta, acting       Chairman of the Onondaga                                     

commissioner of the NY DEC.   County Legislature.                                          



It is ironic that Ward Stone’s integrity is being challenged because in our opinion, and the opinion of many environmentalists in N.Y. state, he has more integrity in one nail clipping than the whole bodies of his accusers. However, the lightening storm directed at Ward Stone will undoubtedly put the spotlight on the ash scam we have described in this series. Of particular interest are the pH levels of the final solution in the TCLP test conducted by the county: they were 9.6, 9.7, 9.8, 9.9, 10.0, 10.8. As can be seen in the graph in Waste Not # 317, these pH’s correspond with the pH range to where lead is least soluble. The scam continues. The TCLP test obscures the dangers. Ward Stone, as a biologist and wildlife pathologist for the state of NY, acted responsibly in testing for total heavy metal content in the ash so that he could assess the potential adverse impact on the wildlife refuge surrounding the ash landfill. We believe that OSHA and Syracuse public health officials should follow Ward Stone’s lead, and determine the true toxicity of this ash so that they protect the health of the workers handling the ash.

A little background to Ogden Martin’s incinerator:

Builder/Operator: Ogden Martin
Tons-per-day: 990 tpd
Location: Syracuse, Onondaga County, NY
Start-Up Date: November 10, 1994
Air Pollution Controls: Activated charcoal injection, dry scrubbers, deNOX, Baghouse
Cost: $183.7 million in bonds issued by the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency. Director: Paul O’Connor.
Owners: A partnership of Ogden Martin, Ford Motor Credit Co., Dana Corp (Toledo, Ohio); Montauk Inc. (Wilmington, Del.). “Ogden put up 20 percent of the project’s cost, then borrowed the money back by selling partnerships to Ford, Dana and Montauk...On paper, they hold the plant and are leasing it back to Ogden...By buying into the plant, Dana, Ford and Montauk can use a depreciation schedule that allows tax breaks over time.” - Syracuse Herald-American, March 5, 1995.

Violations: Ogden Martin received a $5,000 fine for storing refuse at the incinerator prior to burning. Residents bitterly complained about the “smell and look of the trash heap.” Residents say that Trash Agency director, Paul O’Connor, lied to them when he said that the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) gave permission to store the trash. It was the state DEC who fined Ogden Martin $5,000.

Ash Landfill: To secure a NY state permit to build an incinerator, a 5-year ash disposal contract must be assured. The trash agency paid $200,000 to Chambers Development to reserve space at their Charles City County landfill in Virginia. With this contract in place, the state gave Ogden Martin the permit to build. Without this contract, the state would not have given a permit to build the incinerator. However, according to a report in the Syracuse Post-Standard of Nov. 11, 1994: “...just hours before the start-up time, agency officials still had no place to store the burner’s ash. The agency finally approved a contract with the Seneca Meadows landfill in Seneca Falls (Seneca County, NY) at a 6:30 pm meeting...The agency will pay $22 a ton to dispose of its ash during the first year of its 2 1/2 year contract with Seneca Meadows...By the time that contract expires, the agency hopes to be able to dump ash in its own landfill....”


It is extremely unfortunate that the attack on Ward Stone has occurred at this juncture. NY’s Governor Pataki has already cut his budget to the bone and there are many state officials who would be glad to see Ward dismissed. We urge our readers to write to Governor Pataki to ask that he restore Ward Stone’s budget and recognize the merits of an official who rises above inadequate regulations to do his job. Send your letter to: Gov. Pataki, Executive Chamber, State Capital, Albany, NY 12224.

WASTE NOT # 318. 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, New York 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.