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State cites smelly Clifton Park compost facility

State cites smelly Clifton Park compost facility

Clifton Park has been cited by the state Department of Environmental Conservation for problems with

Clifton Park has been cited by the state Department of Environmental Conservation for problems with a town-owned compost facility run by private contractors, but town officials said Wednesday that the problems are being addressed.

It’s the second time in a year that the facility has been cited for odor and other problems.

The facility on Vischer Ferry Road is a transfer station used by town residents since 1992.

County Waste signed an agreement with the town in 2004 allowing the company to truck yard waste from Clifton Park and five neighboring towns to the transfer station.

A subcontractor, Troy Sand and Gravel, composts and shreds the waste, some of which is mixed with sand to create topsoil.

Town Attorney Thomas McCarthy said especially hot weather in April caused an odor problem as a neglected pile of waste was turned.

McCarthy said that after the town was cited by the state last year, it was agreed that the waste at the former landfill would be turned once a week to keep the odor problem to a minimum.

“Apparently there was one stack of material that had not been turned since last fall, and that caused the problem,” he said.

Another citation was for an overdue annual report from County Waste, and a third was for the lack of a mulching machine on site.

Large waste is to be shredded within 24 hours of arriving at the station under the permit.

Problems found last year concerning runoff from the facility into nearby tributaries will be corrected later this month, McCarthy said.

The town’s engineering firm prepared three options for correcting the problems and DEC has only recently approved one of the suggestions, which will be implemented by May 26, according to McCarthy.

Tom DeLeonardis lives in the Hidden Crest subdivision about a half-mile from the transfer station. He said the neighborhood has an on-again, off-again battle with the town over odors from the site.

“I know the town is working on it,” he said Wednesday, “but we’ve had a stench going back to April that’s been bad.”

DeLeonardis collected signatures on a petition last year asking the town to do something about the smell released when the compost is turned.

“We would like to see the facility accept waste from Clifton Park only,” he said. “The problems started when the facility got too big.”

McCarthy said the operating permit between the town and County Waste allows the company to bring debris from outside the town.

In return, the company picks up curbside piles of branches, leaves and clippings for free.

County Waste has also made improvements to the facility.

“In lieu of payments to the town, the company invested about $200,000 in 2005 to upgrade the facility,” he said.

The annual cost of removing debris around town could top $375,000 if the contract with County Waste was nullified, Town Board members said.

Town Board member Sanford Roth said he would hate to see the program end.

“We don’t want small, unregulated compost operations popping up all over town,” Roth said. “Before we had this program, there were a lot of piles [of debris] behind people’s houses or in trash bins. We want to prevent that from happening again.”

Roth said the town has $500,000 in reserve to address the problems at the transfer station if the companies involved cannot get everything into compliance.

“We’re hoping everything will be resolved within a couple of weeks, but we have set money aside in case we can’t negotiate a solution,” he said.

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