Southbridge Recycling and Disposal Park (“Casella”) is the operator of the Southbridge Landfill, located at 165 Barefoot Road, Southbridge, Massachusetts (the “Landfill”). On August 17, 2015, Casella submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Report to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs MEPA Office (“DEIR”). Casella proposes to expand the Landfill’s disposal capacity by 4,461,600 tons and build over 32.78 acres of new landfill cells.
Casella’s DEIR largely ignores the evidence that the landfill is already leaking. Casella also failed to disclose that Casella voluntarily shut down the landfill over the summer due to the escape of landfill gases and the odors they caused. Finally, the certain increase in contamination to the air and water (ground and surface) that this project would result in was glossed over.
Ridiculously, Casella argued that because the yearly tonnage will not change, the additional almost four and a half million tons of municipal solid waste to be dumped over the next 11 years does not constitute an increased danger to public health and the environment. To clarify, Casella is like a smoker who has been smoking a pack a day for many years, and when told they should quit, argues that continuing to smoke a pack a day for eleven more years won’t further harm their lungs.
The proposed expansion has been divided into four phases. Phase I would allow Casella to build earthen berms up to sixty feet high around the existing landfill. Casella would then take advantage of the new capacity created by the berms and stack 7.39 acres of new landfill cells on top of the existing closed cells (12 acres of the closed cells are unlined).
Phase II would allow Casella to build new cells with a berm on 3.25 acres adjacent to the existing cells. Phase III would allow Casella to extend the landfill onto 10.45 acres north of the existing landfill into Charlton and land in Southbridge that has not been site assigned. Phase IV would allow Casella to build a new landfill across Commercial Drive, south of the landfill on 19.08 acres.
All four phases require berms because they are building new cells on top of existing cells (Phase I) or they propose building cells where there is not adequate space to safely build traditional landfill cells.
MASSPIRG’s comments focus on two topics not adequately addressed by Casella’s DEIR:
(1) Procedural Failures – Despite their exclusion of this requirement in the DEIR, as per 310 CMR 16.00, both Phase I and Phase III of the proposed expansion require a Determination of Site Suitability from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and a Major Modification to Site Assignment from the Boards of Health of the Towns of Southbridge and Charlton; and,
(2) Need for Investigation and Remediation — This expansion, if allowed, will increase the danger to public health due to the increased contamination of the air and water of the Towns of Charlton, Southbridge and Sturbridge, yet the DEIR does not even address investigation or remediation of ongoing releases into the environment.
MASSPIRG will continue to advocate that the state and local governments to protect the public health and the environment by not allowing the expansion of this very dangerous landfill.