295, Waterloo, NY 13165
Number 9 April, 2000
WELCOME to Finger Lakes Citizens for the Environment's newsletter 'The Heron." I am Linda Ochs, editor. Our mission is to help educate the public regarding environmental issues affecting the Finger Lakes region and to orchestrate changes for long term solutions to protect the same.
Since people seem to be over worrying about Y2K problems I want to remind everyone we don't just have to worry about problems on January 1st. If anything, the threat of catastrophic problems happening will be very real in this next decade. We must assess how very vulnerable we are individually as well as a society. We need to take a took at where we can make some changes in our lives to protect our families and communities to avoid major catastrophes and if they do oebur, how to get through them with the least amount of trauma. During this next decade issues such as clean drinking water, wanton pesticide and chemical use and disposal, natural disasters, as well as energy issues will be in the forefront.
We need to let our elected State and Federal officials know we want a cleaner environment and the stop of widespread disregard for human life and health that exists at present. Earth Day Lobby Day 2000 is a chance to meet with other people across the State who share the same ideas and to tell your State Legislators what you want from them regarding these occur issues. The date is April 10, 2000 at the Legislative Office Building across from the Capitol in Albany from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. In the morning there will be speakers from leading environmental groups as well as government leaders and you will have a chance to learn about the issues on this year's Earth Day Lobby Day agenda. In the afternoon we will break into lobby teams and meet with our own Assemblymembers and Senators. Please pre-register if you plan to attend. Call 518-462-5526 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. I will be going and have been trying to encourage the local schools to send students as well. Albany needs to hear from the Finger Lakes and what our concerns are!
April 22, 2000 will be the 30th Anniversary of the original Earth Day, which was responsible for revamping the environmental movement across the country. Many good things such as stricter environmental standards for air and water were accomplished because average, every-day people made their wishes known and pressured their legislators to do the right thing. It is now time again to put the pressure on and truly make Earth Day everyday!
Garbage and its disposal is, and will always be, an enormous problem in our society. Those that live in the vicinity of Seneca Meadows Landfill or any other landfill, know the problems associated with these mega-disposal facilities. A large problem with living in close proximity to a landfill is odor. Seneca Meadows. has a hotline phone number for people to call that have landfill. odor complaints. Please call 1-800-889-4318 if you experience a landfill odor problem 24-hours a day. They will record your complaint. There are some problems with this system, but don't hesitate to call in legitimate complaints, as there is discussion about instituting a better program in the future. No calls tend to mean there are no odor problems, which is certainly not the case.
I spoke at a meeting in December in Syracuse regarding the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency's permit request to burn fires in the incinerator. As you know, Seneca County is the final resting-place for the incinerator's ash at the present time (approximately 80,000 tons a year). This ash contains all types of chemicals, including dioxins, which are extremely hazardous. OCRRA is allowed to add lime to the ash before it is tested and the subsequent test shows that it is neutral so it is allowable for it to be disposed of in a municipal landfill, The DEC has at least stopped allowing the ash to be spread as a daily cover for the landfill, but there are still many problems with this ash.
Allowing tires to be burned in this incinerator first as a "test run" and subsequently in small quantities and then larger quantities down the road would, according to test results from other incinerators, create an even larger problem. The ash coming to Seneca Meadows would be approximately three times as toxic. This is not something we want in our backyard, especially when our County voted down locating an incinerator in our area. There was huge public outcry about this proposed project with over 600 residents attending the meeting and speaking against this proposal, OCRRA has since withdrawn its permit application for tire burning for the present, I'm sure this idea isn't over as the State is looking for ways to handle the tire disposal problem across the State and burning tires is stiff an option that is being considered. More about this at a later date.
In December I also spoke at a Dioxin Reduction conference in Rochester about the importance of ridding our environment of dioxins, Dioxin is one of the most deadly chemicals man has created. This conference discussed the dangers associated with dioxin exposures we are faced with every day and the affects on our health and that of future generations. Most people on the face of the earth have concentrations of dioxin in their systems, and in fact, we are heading to human saturation of this chemical. Incinerators are large producers of dioxins, and in that regard there is a push to stop burning plastics and other wastes that create this dangerous chemical. Dioxins and phalaphates are being added. to infant products such as teething rings, toys, plastic coatings on feeding spoons, etc. so infants are being exposed to these deadly chemicals while in the womb through their mother's exposure, at birth, and throughout their lives with grave consequences.
Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring is must read for anyone who wants to understand the problems associated with pesticides and other chemicals that threaten the very existence of' our species as well as the other creatures who inhabit the earth. Rachel warned us back in the 60's of the problems associated with the use of so many chemicals 'in our environment. Now we are in an even worse position with new chemicals being created every day, little if any long-term testing being done, and the affects these chemicals have on our very lives. Your local library should have this book and if they don't they can. probably get it for you. Many of the pesticides used kill everything--not just the targeted insect you are trying to eradicate. There are safer methods of pest control.
While we are on the topic of pesticides, there has been much ado about Kodak's pollution. They are the largest polluters in the State of New York. Many concerned citizens as well as environmental groups have been trying to get better operating standards for this company. There are known brain cancer clusters around the plant and the pollutants emitted from this plant (at least 64 different chemicals) are a threat to all, but especially to children and the elderly. Numerous dialogues have continued with the DEC and other State officials over this company which is the source of approximately 100 toxic spills, millions of methylene chloride emissions, hexavalent chromium releases and 544 million adult doses of dioxin, Kodak should upgrade their hazardous waste incinerator with Activated Carbon Injection technology as well as installing 24- ambient air monitors around the edges of Kodak Park. For more information call Citizens' Environmental Coalition (716-885-6848) or email: email@example.com .
The City of Auburn is again. discussing the idea of privatizing their landfill and the local newspaper ran an article stating the fact that Seneca Meadows Landfill can charge much lower tipping fees for garbage disposal than the Auburn Landfill due to loopholes in new regulatory laws several years ago. At a time when the State was trying to set standards for landfills such as double composite liners, leachate systems, etc., new landfills had to follow the new standards. Seneca Meadows was allowed "business as usual" operations and did not have to spend the money on complying with these new standards. Other landfills have suffered over the years because of this loophole and are trying to become competitive with the lower tipping fees. Privatizing the Auburn Landfill could lead to the many problems associated with private companies running landfills that don't look at sustainability and that is something every town needs to incorporate in their long-term waste disposal plan- It's time to realize "there ain't no free lunch" when it comes to responsible long-term waste disposal methods.
NY State Electric & Gas at 480 Border City Road, Border City, will be offering FREE wood chips for mulch during daytime hours only. These chips are available through NYSEG's tree trimming program and are not meant for commercial use or resale. Bring your own shovel and containers and plan on loading them yourself The chips will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and will be located off the main driveway near the natural gas refueling station. This is an excellent way to get the mulch you will need for the upcoming gardening season and at the same time help recycle garden waste that would normally end up in a landfill!
March 20th I attended a meeting in Oswego regarding the nuclear plants that are looking to store their spent nuclear rods 'in a dry cask system. This means that the spent fuel rods, which have a half-life of approximately a billion years, will be stored in cement boxes behind the present nuclear plants. The scientist hired to complete a report on his findings on dry cask storage, Andrew Kadek, guarantees 100% safety of this dry cask system. I challenged his statement countering that nothing that has the potential to kill hundreds of people and render land inhabitable for a million years or- more could ever guarantee 100% safety. Safe storage of spent nuclear fuel does NOT exist at this time. The Federal Government is trying to set up -a nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada for disposal of nuclear wastes. That means the potential for nuclear accidents will rise dramatically with spent fuel rods and other wastes being transported by rail or trucks across many states to this resting ground. I don't feel comfortable having nuclear waste dragged through our towns. One accident and an entire 50-mile area could be gone. Ultimate safety should be considered first and foremost and if we can't come up with safe nuclear storage we should rethink our use of nuclear power for our electric needs. There will be more on this topic in the next newsletter with new information about the affects of living close to a nuclear power plant.
People ask me all the time what they can do as homeowners or renters to make their home more efficient and environmentally friendly. One of the first things I suggest is switching to fluorescent bulbs throughout the home. There are many new styles to choose from to fit a variety of lamp receptacles and lighting needs. I use several types in my house. I have a reflector-type bulb for over the kitchen sink. This type of bulb is good for task areas that need intensive lighting- I use the "3 stick" (15 watts) type in some lamps, a "single stick (7 watts) in the bedrooms as well as in the cellar. In smaller wall lamps I use the compact fluorescent bulbs. Most of the lights in my home use 15 watts or less; but get the light equivalent to a 60-watt bulb. So, for every 60-watt bulb someone uses I can use 4 fluorescent at the same time for the same amount of energy. These bulbs are more expensive initially, but over the long run they last at least 10 times longer as they don't create the heat that a normal bulb does. So, you get a bulb that lasts for years, you use less energy for your lighting needs, and you save literally tons of pollution at the same time.
Most power plants that generate electricity use either coal, oil, nuclear, etc. to create the electricity needed in homes or businesses. The less energy you use taking care of your electrical needs means less pollution in our air, water and soil. This is an important goal to strive for. Some people will argue the expense. If you can't afford to switch them all at once decide which areas in your home use the most fighting and switch those bulbs first and then work your way down the line. We waste money on many foolish things. Isn't it about time we invest in our environment? The return is well worth the effort.
Remember Earth Day April 22nd and start making Earth Day Everyday in your life! Please come and hear what Ward Stone has to tell us on April 27th This meeting is FREE and open to the public. Being informed about the issues gives communities the information they need to make intelligent long-term decisions, which will make your community a safer and saner place to five.
Any questions about the issues presented in this issue of "The Heron" please call for more information. Anyone interested in volunteering a few hours of their time to help out on some of these issues please call. And as always we welcome new memberships, renewals, and donations to keep Finger Lakes Citizens for the Environment able to continue our work of protecting our communities and to find long-term solutions for a safe and clean environment.
To become a member please print out and mail our Membership Form by clicking here . . .