Close Dunn C&D Landfill Built Next To Rensselaer's K - 12 School

New York State DEC, Governor Kathy Hochul, AG Letitia James

Rensselaer School District Proximity to Landfill Seen From Above
Rensselaer School District Proximity to Landfill Seen From Above, Photo Courtesy Rensselaer Environmental Coalition

Waste Connections, Inc's largest construction and demolition landfill (Dunn C&D) in the northeast was built next door to Rensselaer City School District's K - 12 campus in a densely populated city. Health, odor, air quality, and noise concerns from the school, residents, and local officials have gone unaddressed or ignored. Little public input was sought during its DEC permitting processes. The school's minority enrollment is 50% with 47.8% of students categorized as economically disadvantaged. Rensselaer is a diverse, working-class city with a high concentration of low-income families. The Dunn C&D Landfill is an obscene environmental and racial justice issue within close view of both the Governor and DEC Headquarters. Tell DEC, Gov. Kathy Hochul, and AG Letitia James to stop risking the health and safety of Rensselaer's schoolkids, its residents, and its future by closing the Dunn C&D Landfill immediately.

Petition by

To: New York State DEC, Governor Kathy Hochul, AG Letitia James
From: [Your Name]

The Rensselaer Environmental Coalition calls on DEC to deny permit renewal to Dunn C&D Landfill bordering the Rensselaer City School District. The Coalition further calls on DEC to enforce departmental and state-level policy(s) that will, immediately upon application, require DEC safely prepare the facility for permanent closure.

Despite Dunn C&D Landfill’s operating permit expiring two years ago, it continues operations in dangerous proximity to the school. Every day 100 tractor trailers, carrying construction and demolition debris, roar through quiet residential streets to access it. DEC officials have described their initial allowance to open a landfill next to a school serving more than 1000 students as a ‘mistake’.

Landfills are well-known concentrated sources of greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants, including PM2.5, which degrade human health. Indeed, the DEC’s internal landfill siting requirements, updated in June 2023, prohibit new landfills from being sited within 1000 feet of an existing school. Despite this, DEC and Dunn C&D Landfill owners have yet to complete thorough testing of air quality and potential health effects related to chronic landfill exposure. For Rensselaer residents, these failures continue to cause immense concern.

In 2019, New York passed the nation’s most progressive climate law: The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CLCPA requires DEC to evaluate if Dunn C&D Landfill creates an overconcentration of pollution and undue health risks. A commonsense evaluation will certainly find that a full-use industrial landfill bordering a K - 12 public school in a densely populated area meets this threshold and poses a bona fide public health risk. Failure to close Dunn C&D Landfill further damages the very communities the CLCPA was designed to protect. DEC’s decision on this issue sends a strong message to the nation of what New York values more — its children’s health or out-of-state corporate interests.

We call on the DEC and the Hochul Administration to apply their own policies and close Dunn C&D Landfill. Let Rensselaer be the model of how the CLCPA can transform disadvantaged communities and build a healthy climate future which prioritizes the next generation. By closing Dunn C&D Landfill and denying its permit renewal, New York sets the precedent for being a true and effective leader on climate justice issues.