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Clarification of Toxics Action Center quote

It is with great respect for journalists that I ask to submit corrections to a November 29 article by Lisa Loomis, “Toxics Action Center takes aim at Moretown Landfill.” The article contains an inaccurate quote from the Toxics Center’s published report that added Moretown Landfill to the list of the 12 most egregious polluters. In addition, my opinion is, the reasons for the Agency of Natural Resources’ delay in granting recertification of MLI’s Cell 3 lacked some important clarifications.

With regard to groundwater contamination, to date the monitoring wells at MLI for groundwater do not show a conclusively clear trend either way across all wells. There is not data to support the inference from Tom Badowski’s statement of “significant reduction in groundwater contamination.” Those remarks leave the impression that there is overall improvement. Please consider the inclusion of the words “some of the elevated levels” in the statement. When all of the monitoring wells are considered, the trends are not conclusive either way and warrant further evaluation.

I have read the Toxics Action Center report and the correct quote is, “Cell 3 of this landfill currently operates without an updated landfill certification, and has done so for more then two years.” The Valley Reporter article quotes the Toxics Action Center report as containing, “the landfill’s current cell does not have a current permit.” To understand more about why the award was given to the landfill please read the full report which is available on the Toxics Action Center website: toxicsaction.org. The report can be located by selecting the Dirty Dozen article from November 27.

A letter from Ben Gauthier, ANR, dated October 1, 2012, and issued to Moretown Landfill states, “As you know, the Cell 3 re-certification is currently technically incomplete; a decision cannot be issued until Moretown Landfill sufficiently demonstrates compliance with groundwater protection and odor control criteria.” This is the reason that the ANR cannot make a decision. It is correct that the landfill had complied with the requirements of the recertification process by submitting their application prior to their current certification’s expiration. By doing so the landfill is allowed to continue operations while the recertification is evaluated and a determination is made. It is true that laws went into place before a final recertification was issued that made groundwater a public trust. This created a situation requiring further review of the recertification application. The groundwater has shown levels of contamination, at least in part from the prior unlined landfill, and the determination was made that further cleanup is required before a recertification can be issued. In addition offsite odors have come to the attention of the ANR and are under current examination as well.

No final determination has been made by the ANR with regard to the recertification, but to make a determination at this time could force denial of the recertification under the Solid Waste Management Rules. The ANR has allowed significant time for MLI to come into compliance. Please don’t mistake this situation as the ANR somehow hampering the landfill from receiving a deserved recertification.

Further complicating the Cell 3 recertification is that recently MLI submitted a supplement to the application requesting the re-opening of Cell 2. There is settling in that cell which allows room for them to work within the previously permitted Cell 2 air space. That cell has been permanently capped and no provision was previously made for uncapping and re-opening it so this matter needs to be put out for public comment and is subject to further review by the ANR.

A simple fact that can be verified through research and public documents that are available through the ANR is that their inability to make a decision for recertification at this time, and therefore leaving the old certification as valid for operation, is the landfill’s inability to demonstrate compliance with both groundwater and off-site odor standards.

 

Martha Douglass lives in Moretown.

 

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