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Toxics Action Center takes aim at Moretown Landfill

The Toxics Action Center of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont has named Moretown Landfill as one of the 12 most egregious polluters.

The report, released November 27, was created from a list of 60 nominations and selection for the top 12 was based on the perceived degree of pollution that the selection committee found.

The report lists EPA concerns about landfills in general, suggesting that all landfills eventually leak. The Toxics Action Center report notes that the landfill occupies 20 of the 200 acres the company owns and that the landfill is currently seeking permits for a fourth landfill cell that will last for 15 to 18 years.

The report takes the landfill to task for its former owner putting trash in an unlined cell that led to groundwater contamination, an issue the current owners are working to remedy and, in fact, according to manager Tom Badowski, the landfill has, since 2006, seen a significant reduction in groundwater contamination.

“What we’re seeing now is elevated iron, manganese and arsenic. Some of the elevated levels we are seeing below the unlined cell are close to some of the levels we are seeing above the unlined cells, so our background levels are equal to our downstream levels,” Badowski said.

The Toxics Action Center report also makes reports that the landfill’s current Cell 3 does not have a current permit and that the landfill’s “inability to secure renewed certification is primarily due to the inability of the applicant to demonstrate compliance with both groundwater and off-site odor standards.”

But that is not the case, according to Ben Gauthier, an environmental analyst for the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

Gauthier said that the landfill had complied with the recertification process and submitted a complete application and the public hearings were held and public comment taken.

“Then, after we had issued a draft certification, the state’s new laws that make groundwater a public trust went into effect which complicated the certification process,” Gauthier said.

“It is not accurate to state that the landfill is operating without certification for Cell 3 because the previous certification still applies since the landfill submitted a complete application and went through the process before the old certification expired. That is a function of a state statute known as Title 3. They got their application in for review and then the groundwater laws changed. If we can’t make a decision, their old certification is valid,” Gauthier said.

He said that part of what the state and the landfill are working on is reclassifying the water at and under the landfill from potable to nonpotable which may ease the state’s permitting issues.

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