MASSPIRG’s Letter to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beaton Regarding Proposed Expansion of Southbridge Landfill

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Kirstie Pecci


Dear Secretary Beaton,

MASSPIRG is submitting the attached memo with exhibits in regards to EEA No. 15356 Draft Environmental Impact Report (the “DEIR”) submitted by Southbridge Recycling & Disposal Park (“Casella”).

According to the DEIR, Casella has requested permission to expand Southbridge Landfill’s disposal area by more than 32 acres using two methods: 1) Building new landfill cells on top of full, closed landfill cells; and 2) Building new landfill cells on undeveloped land. Using the numbers provided by the DEIR, if allowed this expansion would result in more than 4,461,000 additional tons of waste being buried in the Towns of Southbridge and Charlton.

MASSPIRG respectfully asks that the MEPA Office require Casella to:

  1. Obtain a Determination of Site Suitability from the MassDEP and a site assignment from the Town of Charlton Board of Health and the Town of Southbridge Board of Health not only for Phases II and IV, but for Phase I and Phase III as well;
  2. Require Casella to submit the residential well-testing data to the MEPA Office, develop a plan for testing to determine where the landfill is leaking now and require Casella to remediate the contamination prior to moving forward with the proposed expansion;
  3. Require Casella to submit all of the odor complaints from the region and the records of the series of shutdowns that Casella imposed over the summer to the MEPA Office, describe the use of the odor suppression chemicals that they are currently spraying to mask the odor (in detail), determine what is causing the release of landfill gas and to halt the releases before moving forward with the proposed expansion;
  4. Require Casella to obtain a change in the Zoning By-laws of the Town of Charlton prior to submitting a site assignment application; and,
  5. Require Casella to obtain an Order of Conditions from the Conservation Commissions of the Towns of Sturbridge and Charlton prior to submitting a site assignment application in regards to all of the wetlands that extend into those communities that will be impacted by the potential expansion.

All four phases of the expansion will require earthen berms to contain the waste, a technology that is largely untested for landfills in Massachusetts. All fours Phases include berms, and as a result must be evaluated by the MassDEP via a Determination of Site Suitability and both the Charlton and Southbridge Boards of Health via a site assignment. Casella has also not addressed the additional danger building new cells on top of existing, sometimes unlined cells (12 acres of unlined cells in all) would pose. 

In conclusion, please require Casella to provide as much information as possible regarding the ongoing environmental degradation at and around the Southbridge Landfill. Please require that the experts at the MassDEP and the citizens that man the local boards and commissions be given the opportunity to review this proposal as carefully and closely as possible.

The landfill poses a serious threat to the public’s health now. The DEIR does nothing to ensure that that danger will not be multiplied if the landfill expands.


Kirstie Pecci, Staff Attorney

staff | TPIN

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