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Ontario County supervisors doubt landfill promises

Can landfill manager Casella Waste Systems Inc. fix persistent odor problems rising from the Ontario County landfill? Some don’t think so — at least not under the current arrangement.

“As soon as the expansion started the odor has been consistent, pervasive, expanding,” said Charlie Evangelista, a former Geneva City supervisor who was on the Ontario County Board of Supervisors for more than two decades. “I am not sure the current management is capable of reducing this odor,” he said before the board Thursday.

Like other supervisors who spoke, Evangelista talked about his past support for Casella in managing the landfill, as well as his faith in the company in 2015 when he voted for the landfill expansion the board approved.

Reading excerpts from over six months of landfill reports, Evangelista noted a litany of landfill odor problems, reasons Casella gave and promises to improve.

Either Casella “doesn’t know how to fix the problem or they are not talking in a straight manner,” Evangelista said.

At issue is landfill stench so bad over recent months it is permeating communities miles from the site in the town of Seneca. Odors increased dramatically last fall about the time Casella broke ground on construction of a new cell permitted by the expansion.

Bristol Town Supervisor Bob Green said that for the first time ever he is hearing odor complaints from residents in his town. “It has traveled that far,” said Green. He added that in Bristol, nearly 20 miles to the west, you can now “see the mountain.”

The expansion allows construction of a new cell for taking trash in the landfill on Routes 5 and 20, as well as raising the mountain of trash an additional 28 feet, to as high as 1,024 feet.

Canandaigua City Supervisor David Baker, who also approved the expansion, said Thursday the landfill “has not been operating properly.”

Baker and other supervisors said they are sick of hearing re-occurring excuses that wet weather is a cause of excess odor. “Six years ago we had a rash of odor problems and was told it was from a wet season,” said Baker, adding wet seasons are commonplace in the Finger Lakes.

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