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On Tuesday, March 26, Moretown Landfill informed the Moretown Select Board that it will no longer accept non-contracted incoming waste as of April 1.
This date comes two weeks earlier than the April 15 closure mandated by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). The ANR denied the landfill’s request for recertification of Cells 2 and 3. Moretown is worried how the sudden cutoff will affect its residents, as well as those of neighboring towns who deliver directly to the Route 2 facility.
The closure of one of the state’s two landfills will work itself out “in the long term,” select board chair Tom Martin said, “but what will people do immediately?” he asked. “Where will people take their trash?”
Over the past couple of months, Moretown has planned for the landfill’s potential closure by asking the state for help developing an “exit plan,” Martin explained, “but there’s been very little communication on their end.” The town has asked the state to provide funding for Moretown for a “soft landing” from the landfill closing. Moretown has received about $500,000 from the landfill in tipping fees annually.
In the state’s defense, Moretown Landfill’s closure “shouldn’t come as a surprise to Moretown,” ANR secretary Deb Markowitz told WDEV-FM 96.1 host Mark Johnson on Monday, March 25.
“The landfill is full,” Markowitz said. “It was certified and built to live its years, and it’s completed those years....The landfill wasn’t intended to be forever,” she said, explaining that Moretown has been putting a portion of the half-million dollars in tipping fees and property taxes that it receives from Moretown Landfill into a Savings Reserve Fund for this very reason.
But Moretown residents aren’t the only ones who will be affected by the facility’s closure, as trash hauling costs are likely to increase across the region, and areas bordering the remaining landfill in Coventry will have to adjust to increased truck traffic.
When asked if she felt comfortable with Vermont having only one landfill, Markowitz replied, “Absolutely.” She did mention, however, that there are three other sites in Vermont permitted to be new landfills, and that one—located in Hartford—has been actively looking for investors.
In its March 26 letter, the landfill announced that it will be appealing the ANR’s decision not to recertify its cells on the grounds that the agency did not take into account the over $1 million in improvements they invested in their operations after December 10, 2013, but “the appeal process will take time,” Moretown Landfill general manager Mike DiMaggio said.
Moretown Landfill decided to stop accepting non-contracted incoming waste before April 15 “due to limited air space,” DiMaggio said in a phone interview on Wednesday, March 27, but “we’re not giving up,” he said.
In the meantime, however, the landfill will be closed. People and businesses will have to find new ways to dispose of their trash, and Moretown will continue to look to the state for help.