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Closed city landfill raises concerns

September 7, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - City Engineer Chandra Cotter told city officials Tuesday that state and federal officials are concerned about public breaches of the city's long-closed landfill, which could result in fines for the city.

Cotter told the Common Council the officials are especially concerned about all-terrain vehicle riders trespassing on the city-owned property. There are health concerns related to public access to what used to be the city dump, she said.

In her monthly report to the council at City Hall, Cotter reported on issues related to ongoing required city government monitoring since the landfill's closure. The landfill, off West State Street Extension, in the town of Johnstown, was closed 27 years ago, but the city still is required to monitor the facility.

The city spent about $32,500 for sampling and monitoring facility wells in 2011. The city also is working to cut in half the number of sampling wells it has to monitor there to save the city money.

The city currently works with Arcadis-US of Clifton Park on monitoring and submits reports to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Cotter said she recently met with representatives of the EPA, DEC and Arcadis-US, and they discussed recent incidents of ATV riders gaining access to the landfill property.

She said other issues discussed included trees that have fallen down at the landfill site. She said the EPA is "very serious" about getting the public off the property. She said the landfill property has had a fence, but it hasn't always worked to keep people out.

"We've replaced it three times in the last five years," Cotter stated.

The city engineer said there is still the possibility the EPA can fine the city over public access to the landfill. Cotter said since the landfill is in the town, not the city, she must ask the Fulton County Sheriff's Department to try to keep an eye out for trespassers.

Cotter said the city Department of Public Works, meanwhile, can do other things to secure the landfill better. Those measures may include more signs and welding of broken sections of fence.

Third Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin said public breaches of the old landfill site are a real liability concern for the city.

First Ward Councilwoman Cindy Lakata raised the possibility of neighbors in the landfill area "helping out up there" by keeping an eye on the landfill.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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