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Ulster officials raise a stink about composting facility

Jul 07, 2021 5:30 am

William J. Kemble is reporting for the Daily Freeman Ulster town officials say a review is needed of the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency's food waste composting and whatever plans there may be for the operation to be expanded. “They have gone and purchased additional land parcels ... to accommodate an increased composting operation,” Town Supervisor James Quigley said at a recent meeting of the board. A recent letter from the agency's board Chairperson Katherine Beinkafner blamed the county Legislature for not moving forward with plans to have large institutions develop plans for food waste composting. “When I go down ... on Ulster Landing Road, I can smell this awful smell,” town board member Eric Kitchen said. “The entrance to our county is a stinking garbage dump,” town board member Clayton VanKleeck said. “What can we do to stop this noxious odor?” County Comptroller Match Gallagher is looking to audit the RRA's composting operations based on concerns that the agency’s contract with the county was violated because of the odor as well as questions over fiscal and sales practices. The composting facility is located about 250 feet from Route 199/209. Complaints about the smell increased in 2015, and by 2019, the odors were noticeable more than a mile away, including on the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. The agency's efforts to reduce odor have included turning the decaying food waste more frequently, but the problems have persisted. Discussion about the use of new technology to eliminate the odor has been rare during the past nine years and generally dismissed by agency leadership when raised. Town board members last week said if complaints fail to motivate the RRA, then perhaps the state could apply pressure. Kitchen noted odors from the composting operation are evident on the Ulster section of the newly created Empire State Trail. “The state has probably put millions of dollars into purchasing this land and putting this trail in,” he said. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.