Waste Management On-Site Visit Notes

The following is provided by Gary McNeil after his on-site visit with Waste Management on November 9th, 2017. 

Michael Merlo and I visited WM this afternoon. I'm going to try and separate the information provided from my thoughts in the summary below. Information posted first, thoughts down below. We went there representing ourselves as concerned residents. I'm sure Mike will follow up with anything I left out.


    • WM is aware of the FB group and has people inside the group that are feeding them information. - The landfill is permitted to deposit 3500 tons/day. They currently take in about 3000 tons/day, which has been consistent for the last several years.
    • The state oversees the air quality requirements (DEC/EPA). WM brings in a third party called GHD Consulting to run air tests. The tests are scheduled ahead of time (not random) and are completed quarterly. WM pays for the service. We did not ask specifics on what is tested for. WM has never been cited for an air quality violation.
    • The DEC is the governing body when it comes to odor emanating from the landfill. WM does not have internal guidelines/policies related to acceptable levels of odor emanating from the landfill. The DEC does not provide WM guidance/policies describing acceptable levels of odor emanating from the landfill.
    • WM believes they have more vertical wells at the site than is required by law. They install/maintain the vertical wells 1-2 times per year, while the horizontal wells, of which there are much less, are an ongoing work in progress when it comes to installation and maintenance.
    • Approximately 3 weeks ago they installed 1 OdorBoss unit that "neutralizes" the odor. They are running a demo of the product. No plans were communicated on how this technology would be invested in once the demo is completed.
    • WaterBoss units are located around the premises utilizing "essential oil" type products to cover the odor. These are running 24/7.
    • WM spends $400k per year on falcons in order to keep Seagulls away.
    • Complaints made by residents are tracked BY COMPLAINT. Tess keeps a log of each complaint in a "database". As an example, I complained Tuesday night at 9:55pm, and Wednesday night at 10pm. That counts as two separate complaints in their log according to WM. It is not done by household.
    • According to WM, 90% of the time they dispatch an employee to confirm the complaint during business hours. - They would prefer phone calls to the 24/7 hotline, not emails.
    • The WM staff onsite and the DEC rep all have real time access to the complaint database.
    • The DEC rep (Dave) is onsite approximately every other day. His boss (Mark) is onsite a few times a month. The DEC office is located right across the hall from Tess's office and there is daily interaction regarding the complaints.
    • WM sees the DEC role as not telling WM what to do, but making sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing according to regulations, and that they are taking corrective action accordingly (when there is an issue).
    • The Conservation Board Town Meeting historically has been a simple meeting where WM presents operational data, permit updates, and a snapshot of the past year. Residents have not historically attended this meeting and there have been no issues at this meeting in the past.
    • The odor emanating from the landfill this summer was primarily due to road construction. There was a road that was on top of a cell that they decided to tear up. By tearing it up, it caused exposure to the inside of the cell for extended periods of time, resulting in the uptick of odor during those months.
    • The odor emanating from the landfill the past few nights/mornings was primarily due to a pipe situation related to clogs and subsequent remediation. The pipe infrastructure is old (25 years old in some areas).
    • WM has had operational issues in the last few months which has resulted in the uptick of odor occurrences. WM believes they can correct the operational issues within 6 months, if not sooner. The goal is to get back to historical odor occurrence rates that the community deemed tolerable. They feel they have a track record of 30+ years of being a good neighbor and can get back to that level.
    • Corporate WM is aware of the local site situation. There have been multiple meetings the last few weeks between the local management team and the corporate team. Cost is not an issue in correcting the issue.
    • The current mix of local waste vs. waste from outside the area is 50/50. Historically it has gotten to 70/30 both ways, and changes on a yearly basis, dependent on agreements and contracts.
    • Trains arrive nightly Sunday through Thursday. They are completely sealed when they arrive, as they are moved from the train to a truck, and as the truck transports the waste to it's final location. At that point the container is opened and dumped. The process of unloading trains goes on all day, everyday.
    • Per WM, NYC waste is not the cause of the uptick in odor in any way (during transport or make up of the waste).
    • There have been conversations between the town board and WM over the last few months in regards to the uptick in odor occurrences.
    • WM is responsible for the development of Perinton into what it is today. The aquatic center, trails, parks, and other town features were all part of the WM/Town agreement/relationship. The town has developed without the need for debt as a result of the relationship, and taxes are lower due to the relationship.
    • WM sees the town as a partner. There is a fire house onsite where the fire department runs drills. There is about to be a shooting range on site where FPD and Macedon PD will be able to practice.

    My personal thoughts:

    • I figured WM would be aware of this group and would have people in the group that provide them info. Makes no difference in my opinion. if you're the mole, congratulations, you've successfully gone under cover in a FB group. You should feel good about yourself.
    • No surprise they didn't provide details on what the actual problem is, although they did admit they have one. I can't verify anything that was told to me, so who knows if road construction caused summer issues and if aging pipes caused the issue from the last two nights. I'd almost rather have it be the NYC waste, which they are adamant is not the cause. At least there would be something definitive to point to. If it's aging infrastructure, how bad is it? Do they have a handle on it? Can it be corrected in 6 months (some of us have heard that story before)? How long has this been on their radar? What exactly does the town know about the inner workings of the pipes and what their lifespan is? All follow up questions for future meetings.
    • They claimed the complaints are logged and reported by actual complaint, not by household. We'll see once the actual report is obtained from the DEC or presented at the upcoming meeting.
    • My wife and I have complained many times the last 6 months and only once have they sent someone to check on the odor, so I'm not sure where the 90% dispatch rate came from.
    •  No surprise that there are no guidelines/policies on odors.
    • A few times it was mentioned that our complaints have gone out as far as Gananda and Penfield; WM feels those are false complaints caused by businesses around those residents. I think our data will support our own conclusions at the end of the day. If we have outliers, we can remove those locations.
    • They really pushed for phone calls, and not emails. I told them we don't trust they will track phone calls, and we will keep written records via email (and other methods).
    • I'm really conflicted about the fire house and the shooting range for the police department. I understand the use of the land, but it adds to the conflict of interest IMO.
    • Which side will the town take if the odor continues? Who knows...I'd like to keep my kids in the school system, live on the same side of town I grew up in, and retire in the house we moved to 2 years ago which has the best neighbors anyone can ask for (outside of WM). We fully expected 4-5 times per year, not 4-5 times per week of odor. My goal is to end the odor nuisance, nothing more, nothing less. WM wants to do business at that site for 30 more years. They are a $15 billion company that gets sued all the time (they made both those points very clear). There are a few different ways this can get resolved, time will tell which way this goes...

    Next Steps:

    • Continue to gather information, spread the word, stay engaged with this group, and attend upcoming meetings. The Town says they are aware and engaged, so (while participating) I will give them some time to see if they can come up with a solution. WM wants 6 months to fix their problem, whatever it is. Personally, and I hate to say this, but I don't trust either group at this point. They have a 30+ year relationship which has been mutually beneficial and most likely runs deeper than we'll ever know. Until the town takes tangible action, or WM makes the odor dissipate to something we are able to tolerate, I'll remain skeptical and keep all options on the table. They started the clock by asking for 6 months. If this situation doesn't get addressed then residents need to fend for themselves.
    • I'm going to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. This group should do the same IMO. That means staying engaged, attending meetings, making phone calls to representatives, sending email complaints, and making phone call complaints. I think we should continue to organize. - There may be residents that think media coverage can help at this point, or even legal representation. To each his own. Having met with both the Town and WM, and having read posts from very informed group members the last 2 days, I don't think I'm going to get involved in either of those two options at this point. I think there is more to play out over the next few months, so I'm going to try and stay patient.

    Thanks for everyone's effort so far, please keep it up. Living in this town is worth fighting for at this point. Sorry again for the long post...