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Dump pays off school to keep quiet

Jul 01, 2019 11:11 pm
Rick Karlin reports in the Albany Times Union that operators of the S.A. Dunn landfill in Rensselaer Coounty are paying at least $135,000 a year to the city school district, whose high school campus is next door to the dump. The dump is also paying the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which announced June 28 it is fining the S.A. Dunn Landfill $35,000, and forcing them to reduce dust, including building a berm to shield the nearby Rensselaer Junior/Senior High School. In exchange for the money the landfill is paying the school, the district, “shall not oppose, object to or otherwise interfere” with the landfill or potential development plans, according to a copy of the agreement obtained July 1 by the Times Union. The Rensselaer school board approved the agreement in December. “This is a gag order,” said Judith Enck, a former Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator. “They are buying them off.” Mike Stammel, the chairman of the Rensselaer County Legislature, agreed. "The city gets money from the dump, the school gets money from the dump, so they all stay quiet while the residents are forced to deal with the trucks, the noise, the traffic, and the smell," Stammel said. " ... This agreement raises a lot of ethical questions." School board President John Mooney said, “There are not too many districts that are blessed with a landfill next to it.... We can’t change it; we can’t shut them down. All we can do is monitor them.” Read more about this story in the Albany Times Union.