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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... trash crime. Fifteen years ago, the New York State Assembly conducted hearings on the state's garbage hauling industry which had become controlled by organized crime families. Some haulers were found to be illegally dumping toxic wastes into landfills.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood

CURWOOD: Fifteen years ago, New York lawmakers were digging up the dirt on trash crime. As chair of the state's environment committee, Assemblyman Maurice Hinchey led hearings which confirmed suspicions that much of the garbage hauling industry in New York City and the Hudson Valley was indeed controlled by organized crime.

By bribing public officials and intimidating competitors, the syndicate achieved a virtualand lucrative monopoly in waste disposal. The racketeers charged steep fees to dispose of toxic and hazardous waste, then mixed them with regular garbage and dumped them into landfills.

Assemblyman Hinchey resumed hearings several years later in Tuxedo, New York, after medical waste, an entire tanker trailer, and a brand new Lincoln Continental were discovered in the local dump.

Over the years, several mobsters have gone to jail for their trash crimes. In what at the time was called the nation's biggest environmental crime case, two New York men were convicted of dumping infectious waste and asbestos into a sensitive wetland on Staten Island, despite the murder of one witness, shot to death in front of his house before his scheduled testimony.

And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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