Think Landfills Shouldn’t Be Near Homes and Schools? Sign On To This Letter!

We have an opportunity to comment on the NY State DEC's Proposed New Regulations that would prevent landfills from being sited or expanding near schools and landfills.  This sign on letter is for both individuals and organizations. Please complete this google form today!

Sign on letter for communities to support proposed regulations on Landfills

Via email to

Rebecca Vaughan
Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Materials Management,
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7253

Re:      Support Proposed Changes to Part 360 regulations

Dear Ms. Vaughan

We undersigned organizations and individuals appreciate the opportunity to comment on the proposed Part 360 regulations (“Proposed Regulations”).  Thank you for granting requests for more time to comment on the Proposed Regulations. The additional time has facilitated our participation in this public comment process.

A. We Support a Prohibition of Landfill Siting and Expansion Within 1000 feet of a School or Place of Residence.

We support the Proposed Regulations’ modification of Part 363-5.1 to add section (k), which would read:

“(k) School and
legal place of residence.

A new landfill cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school or legal place of residence. An existing landfill located within 1,000 feet of a school or legal place of residence is prohibited from expanding either vertically or laterally.”

We support the Proposed Regulations’ change to protect communities from harmful landfill impacts. Studies show that living near a landfill has a negative impact on people’s health and quality of life.  We also know that landfills have historically been sited primarily near communities of color. Restricting where landfills can be built or expanded will serve environmental justice and protect overburdened communities.

1. Studies show that landfills have negative impacts on members of the surrounding community. 

 New York has known about the negative health impacts of landfills on community health for decades.  The New York State Department of Health studied cancer incidence near landfills between 1980 and 1989 and concluded that women living close to a landfill had statistically significant elevated risk of bladder cancer and leukemia.[1]

The study specifically looked at exposures of people living within 250 feet, 500 feet, and 1000 feet of the landfill. Id. Therefore, we know that people living within 1000 feet of a New York landfill are at increased risk of developing cancer.

Living near a landfill also puts residents at greater risk of contracting anthropozoonotic diseases. Studies have found that pathogens and microorganisms that would negatively impact human health are present in municipal waste landfill leachate.[2] Insects that interact with humans frequently, like houseflies, are capable of transmitting pathogens from landfills to human households.[3] For immunocompromised people, contact with these pathogens could be fatal.[4] This presents a major health risk for community members living near landfills.

In addition to the threat it poses to individuals’ health, living near a landfill also negatively impacts community dynamics by inducing stress. Fear, due to uncertainty about the health-related and other impacts of living near a landfill, causes “environmental stress”.
This stress manifests itself as worry, anxiety and feelings of disempowerment for the individual, as well as, “hostility and divisions within the community.”[5] As people fear for their health, they also worry about the possibility of the landfill exploding, catching fire or leaking.

Additionally, they must reckon with the noise, traffic, litter, and odor caused by landfill related trash collection and maintenance.[6]  All these factors place a heavy burden on individuals and on the community as a whole.

2. Landfills have negatively impacted our communities.

3. A limit on where landfills can be sited or expanded supports environmental justice.

Limiting where landfills can be sited or expanded is consistent with the environmental justice best practices.  As the seminal study Toxic Wastes and Race documented, historically race has been the primary driver of the siting of hazardous waste facilities and illegal dump locations.[7] More recent studies support a pattern of environmental injustice in waste management siting locations.[8] 

Restricting landfill expansion is particularly important because existing landfills have already subjected local residents to negative health and quality of life impacts.   Communities that have already sacrificed their health and quality of life so that other communities have a place to dump their trash should not be asked to suffer as an existing landfill seeks to expand and to continue to negatively impact the surrounding community.

B. The Prohibition of Landfill Siting and Expansion
should be further than 1000 feet.

While the Proposed Regulation is a good start, limiting the prohibition of siting or expanding to 1000 feet from a school or legal residence is still too close to homes and schools to protect the community.  The Proposed Regulation does not explain why they limited to prohibition to only 1000 feet.  While the New York Department of Health study from the 1980’s identified higher cancer risk for people living within 1000 feet of a landfill, New York should expand the protection to more than 1000 feet.  The negative impacts on quality of life are felt much further out than 1000 feet. 

In particular, people who live and work miles from landfills suffer
negative effects from the foul odors from the landfill and lowered quality of life and property values.  The Proposed Regulation should be modified to prohibit siting and expansion of landfills within a mile of schools, residences, and businesses.


We support the Proposed Regulations’ prohibition on siting or expanding landfills within 1000 feet of a legal residence or school and we support expanding that prohibition from 1000 feet to a mile.

Respectfully submitted

[1] .NYSDOH,
“Investigation of Cancer Incidence near 38 Landfills with Soil Gas Migration: New York State, 1980-1989,” Epidemiology July 2000, Vol. 11, Issue 4,

[2] Thaddeus K.
Graczyk et al., Occurrence of Cryptosporidium and Giardia in Sewage Sludge and Solid Waste Landfill Leachate and Quantitative Comparative Analysis of Sanitization Treatments on Pathogen Inactivation, Environmental Research Jan. 2008,
Volume 106, Issue 1, .

[3] Anne Follet-Dumoulin, “Involvement of Insects in the Dissemination of Cryptosporidium in the Environment”, Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, July 2005, Volume 48, Issue 1, .

[4] Beata Szostakowska, Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia lamblia Recovered from Flies on a Cattle Farm and in a Landfill, Applied Environmental Microbiology, June 2004, Volume 70, Issue 6, .

[5] Sarah Wakefield
& Susan Elliot, Environmental Risk Perception and Well-Being: Effects of the Landfill Siting Process in Two Southern Ontario Communities, Social Science & Medicine, Apr. 2000, Volume 50, Issue 7-8,

[6] Judith Petts, Municipal Waste Management: Inequities
and the Role of Deliberation, Risk Analysis, 2000, Volume 20, Issue 6, .

[7] See Commission on Racial Justice, United Church of Christ, Toxic Waste and Race in the United States (1987)

[8] See Martuzzi et al. “Inequalities, inequities, environmental justice in waste management and health,” European Journal of Public Health, Vol. 20, issue 1, Feb. 2010 at 21-26; National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, “A Regulatory Strategy for Siting and Operating Waste Transfer Stations: A Response for Recurring Environmental Justice Circumstance: The Siting of Waste Transfer Stations in Low Income Communities and Communities of Color” (2020).

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