It became apparent this week that there are two dump sites on Fulton County land — the huge, state-approved Mud Road Landfill and a small second site now deemed illegal.
The illegal site is located at the end of a dirt road that leads from the parking lot of the Fulton County Residential Health Care Facility into a county-owned pine grove.
When a Gazette reporter made some telephone calls Tuesday after inspecting the cluster of junk and refuse — visible through the woodlot about 100 yards from nearby Route 309 — the maintenance crew from the health care facility spent most of the remainder of day in heavy rain pulling discarded appliances and furniture out of the brush that grows on the steep embankment.
Junk was stacked in the clearing above the embankment to await pickup by a county Department of Solid Waste truck, which took it away Wednesday morning — shortly before officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation arrived to inspect.
Solid Waste Director Jeffrey Bouchard said he was contacted late Tuesday morning by a health care facility staffer who asked that a truck be dispatched to transport some metal.
Bouchard said his crew brought back 2,080 pounds of refuse, including five refrigerators, numerous chairs and a stove. Any Freon remaining in the refrigerators will be removed before the appliances are disposed of or recycled, he said.
It was not clear this week whether any of the junk came from the health care facility. Its director, Jennifer A. Gilston, did not return telephone calls.
Maintenance Director Kevin Stanzel said the recovery operation conducted Tuesday was routine, even in the rain, and is a chore he and his crew perform periodically. He said the dump has been there since the county operated a “poor house” on the site more than 50 years ago, although he said some of the refuse may have been trucked in by the public when a gate on the road was removed about four years ago.
Neighbors of the property said they did not notice the site until leaves fell last fall and a big white appliance stood out against the brown backdrop of the woods.
“There was nothing that was dumped there recently,” Stanzel said. Some of the junk may have been discarded some time ago, but a refrigerator lying on top of the pile with its doors open was free of leaves and other vegetation.
In two places, someone had very recently dumped the contents cleaned from horse stalls.
DEC spokesman David Winchell said Wednesday that although the site is illegal, agency officials decided they will not cite the county for operating a dump site without a permit.
An institution such as the county health care facility cannot operate a dump site without a permit, Winchell said. Agency officials inspecting the site Wednesday have directed the county to perform some additional cleanup, Winchell said.
By the time DEC personnel arrived, Winchell said, “It was pretty well cleaned up … [and] there was no evidence to act on.” Though they were gone when the DEC inspected, refrigerators containing Freon present a significant environmental threat, Winchell said.
County Administrator Jon R. Stead said that he was unaware of any dumping going on behind the nursing facility. Stead said that he is glad it is being cleaned up, whatever the source, and questioned whether the material originated at the facility.
Other county officials, including some supervisors on the county board’s committee dealing with the facility, said they also were unaware of the dump site.
One of those supervisors said it seems improbable that a non-employee could drive in to discard major appliances and furniture since a truck would have to travel within feet of the 24-hour facility and then proceed through a back fence and past the maintenance department.
Categories: Schenectady County