Butler is a little town on the east side of Wayne County, New York, home to something less than 2,000 people, in one of the poorest regions in America.
It has no money, and it has no power.
Its Republican assemblyman and senator have no voice in the Democrat-controlled state legislature, and its conservative politics have no representation in the Democrats who sit in the federal Senate. So broken is local belief in the political process that fewer than 150 voters come out for the average election.
Like most of upstate New York, it’s a backwater being slowly strangled by outside powers and forces it can’t understand or fight.
Which gets us to New York City’s shit.
A scheme is in the offing to truck municipal sewage from New York City to an old quarry in Butler and let it rot. The toilet flushings of Gotham will be dumped on the fields of Butler.
Human feces. The most loathsome and revolting of substances. That’s what you get when you’re a nobody.
The Democratic presidential candidates pontificate about environmental justice, while the progressive capital of the nation practices environmental injustice as a right. We are strong and you are weak, the big city says, and you will take our waste.
And so it is that for a generation the garbage of an overcrowded and filthy city has been trucked and trained by the millions of tons into the once-pristine Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. In most of America, 18-wheelers are the lifeblood of the national economy, taking products to market and supplying merchants and manufacturers. In upstate New York, the big trucks are bringing trash. Around the clock, every day of the year, to landfills where farmers once farmed and the Iroquois roamed free, to vistas and valleys carved by glaciers and God into one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth.
That’s where New York City puts its trash.
And just north of there, one township away from Lake Ontario – part of the water source for some 35 million Americans and Canadians – New York City wants to flush its toilet. A perpetual parade of tanker trucks carrying human feces to rot in the open air.
That ought to smell good in Syracuse and Oswego.
That’s what’s being proposed, by enemies near and far.
The name on the proposal is Tully Environmental, a cabal out of Flushing, New York. But the crap pit itself, the property involved, is owned by something called Syracuse Sand and Gravel. And Syracuse Sand and Gravel is owned by Riccelli Enterprises, which is owned by Central New York businessmen Joseph and Richard Riccelli. They are the kings of trash trucking. It seems a fair number of their 400 trucks are employed bringing New York City garbage to upstate landfills.
Now it looks like they are going to collect rent on the abomination in Butler, and cash in big by trucking the filth of millions into the backyard of hundreds.
So this project involves not just being drowned in the feces of the city, but being pissed on by profit-taking neighbors.
Let’s review the hydrology.
People flush the toilet in New York City. The Riccellis truck that to Butler and dump it into their quarry. From there it seeps into Wolcott Creek – which runs adjacent to the site – and flows into a mill pond in the village of Wolcott, then over a little waterfall and, from thence, into port bay on Lake Ontario. Five miles from fence to beach.
But wait, there’s more.
This rape of Wayne County will produce “compost,” rotten human feces laced with whatever medications, adulterations and heavy metals end up down the toilet. The plan calls for this “compost” to then be spread on the fields and in the orchards and vineyards of this fertile and pristine region.
Which ought to add an interesting bouquet to Finger Lakes wines, and a whole new marketing option for New York apples. I’m sure the milk drinkers and wine enthusiasts and apple eaters of America will endorse the practice of swaddling New York agriculture in human waste.
That’s how we get E. coli on imported lettuce, right?
And that’s how we tell rural, impoverished New York that its people and their lives mean nothing to the big city and the moneyed interests that feed off it.
This can’t stand.
This is immoral, unwise and wrong.
And simply put, the people of upstate say to New York City: We don’t want your shit.