Creating A Healthier Future For Our Communities

The Rensselaer Environmental Coalition (REC) was formed because a gigantic industrial operation, the Dunn Construction and Demolition (C&D) Landfill, was approved to be sited in the city of Rensselaer NY, right next to a school and close to residential neighborhoods.

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DEC Ignoring PFAS Contamination at Dunn

In February 2020, the Rensselaer Environmental Coalition conducted sampling in three waterbodies surrounding the Dunn Landfill property. The samples were sent to an EPA approved lab and tested for PFAS contamination. All three sample locations came back conclusive with high concentrations of PFAS contamination. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation was provided with the test results and replied that REC was “fear mongering.” Several days later, DEC asked operators of the Dunn Landfill to conduct their own testing. Test results returned to DEC showed even higher levels of PFAS contamination. These results were secured by REC through a FOIL request of DEC records pertaining to the matter. To date, DEC has not publicly released the findings nor has the agency addressed the issue. 

PFAS is a large group of pollutants that are often referred to as “forever chemicals” in the environment. Household furnishings, carpets, car seats, mattresses and cushions all comprise of these types of chemicals. Under Dunn’s operating permit, the facility is not legally allowed to accept these kinds of materials. 

Last year, the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study that found that people living in close proximity to facilities that create air pollution are at a higher risk of dying if they fall ill to COVID-19, the coronavirus. In recent years, high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gas in the air has caused breathing difficulties and nausea for those living in close proximity to the Dunn facility.

Elementary School and Dump with climbing gym even closer to the dump.
Photo by Chris Kielb

Drone Shot of Dump in Relation to Community
For additional details on location, click this link.
Photo by John Lyden

A waste hauler passes children waiting for their school bus on Partition Street.
Photo by Chris Kielb

The Beginning

In 2012, despite documented concerns of Rensselaer and East Greenbush residents, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) permitted the Dunn Landfill to open its 99-acre site next door to a Pre-K thru 12 school campus housing over 1,000 students and hundreds of teaching and other staff. This massive operation is also located in the middle of residential neighborhoods in Rensselaer and East Greenbush.

This unbelievable action allows up to 100 noisy, long-haul tractor trailer trucks per day, each weighing up to 117,000 pounds, to bring construction debris from seven states through the heart of the residential community and dump it next to a school. Hydrogen sulfide odors (rotten egg smell) from rotting wallboard, diesel exhaust, noise and dust constantly impact the quality of life and threaten the health of residents. Emissions from landfills like Dunn not only produce odor problems, but also can result in major health impacts in the surrounding community, including nausea, vomiting, respiratory problems, depression, and personality changes.

Do you have an issue with Dunn Landfill being so close in our community? Let us know!

Since this decision, Waste Connections, a Texas-based corporation who bought out Dunn, has made political donations to the Rensselaer Democratic Party and Assemblyman John McDonald. To make matters worse, Rensselaer Environmental Coalition discovered that the school board agreed to accept $125,000 a year from this giant corporation to supplement the school’s budget. Waste Connections recently contributed $10,000 to the school sports program and has offered to match donations up to $75,000 for the school sports program. This C&D operation is doing everything it can to guarantee it will be here for years as it has the acreage to operate until at least 2036.

Citizens whose rights were ignored in this process have banded together with the help of environmental advocates and concerned citizens from neighboring communities to build sustainable opposition to the continued operation of this landfill and to obtain environmental justice for local residents. We are Rensselaer Environmental Coalition (REC). We are fighting a Goliath and we need your help.

Our Involvement

Since our formation, we have engaged in a variety of activities to get this landfill closed. This includes engaging in door-to-door petition and letter-signing campaigns, holding news conferences and issuing news releases, writing letters to the editor, organizing rallies and protests, conducting truck censuses, joining an online odor complaint website, meeting with the DEC and state representatives, obtaining a grant from the Center for Health and Environmental Justice and joining The Hudson Mohawk Environmental Action Network.

The permit for the landfill is up for renewal in 2022. We aim to do all that we can to prevent this permit from being renewed.

Our group is also working to prevent a garbage processing facility, BioHiTech, from operating in the southern end of Rensselaer. This facility would operate on top of a toxic waste site and bring even more truck traffic to Rensselaer.

Photo by Chris Kielb

We Want To Protect

This website aims to strengthen support in order to protect citizens and the environment from pollution, illness, chronic exposure to hazardous substances, and the destruction of our lives by a big-money corporation. This landfill was brought into existence with the assistance of the State of New York, which did not adequately consider its effect on our quality of life and health. We need Governor Cuomo to recognize the overwhelming problems created by these operations for the people of Rensselaer and East Greenbush, and to live up to his reputation as the “protector of the people.”

We Have Political Support

Our cause has political support. The new Mayor of the city of Rensselaer was elected in 2019 on a platform that opposes the operation of the landfill. In March of 2020 the entire town board of the neighboring Town of East Greenbush voted to support the immediate closure of this landfill. This issue has also received extensive coverage by the local media outlets and at times by national media. Our members have written numerous letters to the editor, and the Albany Times Union has published numerous editorials opposing this landfill.

Come Join Us

There is a TAKE ACTION link on this website. If you wish to help us in our effort and stay informed, we encourage you to submit your information on the form. We will not release or sell your personal information. If you wish to make a non-deductible contribution or purchase you may also do so. We will send you a removable bumper sticker that helps to spread the word about our efforts. The bumper sticker will display a link. Clicking on that website will take people to this website.



Holy Sepulchre Cemetery next to the dump.
Photo by Chris Kielb

Dust blowing across school property from dump.

A drawing done by an elementary school student.