Ports reveal unprecedented surge in harmful emissions; officials blame COVID-19 logjam
Updated April 30
In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued several emergency rules designed to boost the safety of wastewater discharges and promote the safe disposal of hazardous substances.
While many of those new rules, or “emergency amendments,” apply only to municipal sewage and water systems, they’ll have repercussions on landfills as well.
The first rule, effective April 10, will require new sewage systems to use double-bottom-line septic tanks and wastewater monitoring systems.
The rule also requires a five-day wait between the initial cleaning and the final clean, adding an additional layer of protection for a system that currently has to wait seven days.
The rule, however, does not apply to existing sewage treatment plants or treatment works.
Those are regulated under the state’s “permit” system, the second rule, issued Monday, mandates double bottom-line septic systems for new sanitary sewers serving low-income or minority households.
On Tuesday, the third new rule, the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, takes effect.
While it only applies to municipal wastewater systems, it takes several steps to reduce the potential for spreading the coronavirus.
The new law requires wastewater treatment works and processing facilities to implement “work flow” guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases.
Treatment works are often the main source of sewage at a landfill, so its requirements to reduce risk apply in many cases.
New York City-owned and operated treatment works — including the Metropolitan Landfill in Queens and the Long Island City Landfill in Nassau County — are required to reduce their capacity by 40 percent, and Long Island Landfill, in Suffolk County, by 35 percent.
New York state and the New York City Department of Sanitation and Dumpster rental companies are required