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At the Moretown Select Board meeting that took place on Monday, June 18, the board discussed Moretown Landfill general manager Thomas Badowski’s suggestion that the town renew the landfill’s host town agreement permit for another year, as the site has enough air space to remain in operation until this March.
But what will happen later this spring, once the landfill has reached its capacity? New Jersey-based Interstate Waste Services, which owns and operates the Moretown site, is still hoping to solve this problem by expanding.
Last summer, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) rejected Interstate Waste Service’s application for a variance needed to construct a fourth trash cell at the Moretown Landfill. If constructed, the addition would allow the landfill to remain in operation for about two more decades, but the ANR stated that plans did not meet the necessary guidelines for groundwater protection and the separation of soil, bedrock and landfill liner.
“The site presents challenges that cannot be overcome by engineering alone,” George Desch, director of the ANR’s Waste Management Division, told the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus last August. “In short, we do not believe that the site is appropriate for construction of a new landfill cell,” Desch said.
Moretown Landfill is still fighting this decision, however, as it revised and resubmitted its application for expansion this year. According to Badowski, the resubmission is just one more step in a lengthy path to approval that began back in 2004.
To expand the landfill, “there are a lot of variables, and you have to go through the process,” Badowski said. As it’s now nearing the end of this process, the company hopes its application will be approved before October, when the construction season ends.
Construction of a new cell would require excavating 1.2 million yards of bedrock on the south side of the existing landfill, away from Route 2, as well as extending the site’s access road westward and moving the scale, scale house and drop-off areas. A larger landfill would also require adding a second 490,000-gallon above-ground storage tank to hold water leaching from the cells before it could be treated.
The landfill is largely regarded as an asset to Moretown, as it maintains a host agreement with the town, from which the town receives an annual tipping fee totaling about $277,000 last year. Interstate Waste Services also contributes property tax fees to the town and employs 10 people.
That being said, several residents came forward last August, when the original application was submitted, in opposition of its approval. “We finally felt that they had crossed the line of being a good neighbor,” Vance Sandretto told the Times Argus.
When Sandretto and his wife, Donna, purchased their home near the then-unlined landfill on Route 2, they were under the impression that it was slated to be closed. But since the company started adding more cells, the Sandrettos have had to put up with unforeseen noise, dust and odor issues, and they looked forward to the landfill finally closing this spring.
While some Moretown residents may be upset about the proposed expansion, if the landfill closes, the trash will have to go somewhere else, which will likely involve building a new landfill in a different town and thus upsetting the residents there.
“We’re one of two commercial landfills in the state,” Badowski said, “and I personally believe that having only one landfill [if ours closes] would be bad for the state.”