The October Almanac
Staten Island's Fresh Kills landfill -- one of the world's largest man-made structures -- by 2001. The plan follows decades of debate about closing the "temporary" landfill, opened in 1948 for what was to be two or three years; at issue is where to send the 13,000 tons of garbage a day that are being deposited there. The decision to close the facility was prompted by a lawsuit threatened last spring by the president of the Staten Island borough, and filed even though the mayor and the governor had already agreed to close the site. The suit is the first ever to seek the closure of a municipal landfill for violation of the Clean Air Act (by one estimate, the 2,200-acre facility emits 5.3 million pounds of methane daily). Legal action is not the only option for dealing with the effects of landfills: the Environmental Protection Agency recently established a national program to promote the recovery, purification, and use as an energy source of landfill gas.
Illustrations by Sergio Ruzzier
The Atlantic Monthly; October 1996; The October Almanac; Volume 278, No. 4; page 18.