Talking trash with Colonie

Department of Public Works Commissioner Jack Cunningham has said repeatedly that the Colonie landfill is an important asset and the town now must do what it can to keep it open.

The idea of a private partnership has been put on the table by the Landfill Exploratory Committee, a panel formed by Town Supervisor Paula Mahan to bring about efficiencies in the landfill.

The landfill is made up of several components, including a composting facility, recycling facility and a gas-to-electricity project.

Recently, the Spotlight toured those facilities, located on Route 9 in Latham, with Cunningham and Landfill Acting Director Matt McGarry as they described how the operation is run, how the landfill has progressed over the years, and how they keep the trash compacted.

A frequent term used to describe the landfill's components is asset, and that word comes up when discussing the composting facility.

"This is one of the assets the town has is the ability to take yard waste, re-circulate it, make it compost and put it back out into the community," said Cunningham.

The mulch from the compost facility is also used to cover the compacted trash when it is final grade. The mulch is meant to even out the slopes of the landfill and prevent any sort of erosion.

Many of the houses near the landfill are due east of the facility, so when heavy winds pick up, they carry the scent given off by the compost area. McGarry said landfill officials have a system to combat the smell, and with fall " and its influx of leaves " fast approaching, that system is crucial to keeping down the stench from the rows of compost.

"We have an odor prevention system," said McGarry, pointing toward several metal poles surrounding the rows of compost. "Those have spray nozzles that spray an odor suppressor for the composting operation. You can't control it 100 percent."

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