Sandy cleanup a boon to Colonie

Town extends acceptance of superstorm debris

— As Downstate New York digs out from Hurricane Sandy, the Town of Colonie is helping to make a dent in cleanup efforts by accepting storm-related debris. The town’s landfill began accepting debris the week before Thanksgiving and as of Friday, Dec. 7, it has taken in 16,000 tons of waste.

The Colonie Town Board approved a resolution on Thursday, Dec. 6, to continue to accept debris at the town landfill until Jan. 15.

The landfill has been accepting debris from the Queens area. The landfill is regulated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, but is operated by the private company Waste Connections, which signed an operating agreement with the town in 2011. The company has agreed to pay the town $4 for each town of debris dumped at the landfill.

“When the storm hit, the New York City region found themselves with an extraordinary amount of debris,” Colonie Commissioner of Public Works Jack Cunningham said.

The waste includes construction and demolition debris, including scrap metal, wood, broken ceramic tiles, etc. All recyclables and asbestos have been removed prior to bringing the debris Upstate.

The DEC and FEMA had originally starting shipping debris to Rochester and Pennsylvania, but realized it would be more cost effective to bring ships to the Port of Albany and send debris to the Albany and Colonie landfills, Cunningham said.

The Colonie landfill currently takes in all municipal waste and construction debris for the town and can take in about 170,500 tons per year. With the extension, the Colonie landfill is permitted to take in a maximum 5,000 tons of Downstate debris per day through Jan. 15. The extension needed to be DEC-approved because it will exceed the regulated annual tonnage.

Although Cunningham said he doesn’t expect to meet the 5,000 tons per day limit, the town originally thought it would be still be accepting debris from Queens. They will only be accepting debris from Nassua County on Long Island now.

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