The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • County purchases radiation detector for landfill

  • A radiation detector is now included in plans for a $130,000 upgrade at the Steuben County landfill this summer.

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  • A radiation detector is now included in plans for a $130,000 upgrade at the Steuben County landfill this summer.
    County Public Works Commissioner Vince Spagnoletti said his department decided to install the detector after learning the state Department of Environmental Conservation will soon require all landfills to monitor debris for radiation.
    The department had already planned to upgrade the scale house at the county landfill, located on Turnpike Road in the town of Bath.
    Spagnoletti said there were no plans to install the $10,000 radiation monitors at the county landfill’s transfer stations in Erwin, Hornell and Wayland.
    The decision not to equip the transfer stations with detectors is in spite of the fact a radioactive load was received at the Erwin transfer station and detected when it was hauled to the Bath site, Spagnoletti said.
    “It’s only happened once and we caught it at the landfill,” Spagnoletti said.
    Proper disposal of the toxic waste cost the county $9,000, he said.
    County officials have intended to install a radiation monitor as part of the plan to take in cuttings from Marcellus Shale drilling operations in Pennsylvania.
    The plan has met fierce opposition from some environmentalists in the area who charge the cuttings are toxic and could contaminate the landfill for generations.
    However, both Spagnoletti and the DEC say the cuttings – rock and soil dug out before natural gas is released – are well below toxic levels.
    Spagnoletti also has repeatedly said the landfill has no intention of treating the toxic wastewater used in hydrofracturing the shale and releasing the gas. Treating the highly salted wastewater would be cost-prohibitive, he said.
    The county had hoped to bring in 10,000 tons of cuttings this year, at the standard fee of $42 per ton.
    However, with natural gas drilling slowing down in Pennsylvania, drillers moving to Ohio, and recent reports of a glut of natural gas, Spagnoletti said he doubts cuttings will be trucked to the Steuben landfill this year.
    The purchase of the radiation monitor was approved by the Public Works and Finance committees.
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