Last month, the Moretown Development Review Board (DRB) agreed to postpone public hearings regarding Moretown Landfill’s request to expand into a fourth trash cell until May, but a recent notice from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) could force the landfill to close completely.
On December 20, the ANR released a letter stating their intent to deny Moretown Landfill’s application for solid waste facility recertification of two existing cells, after the landfill representatives failed to present a convincing plan for fixing 12 environmental violations the facility was cited for in late November.
Many of those violations dealt with Moretown Landfill’s demonstrated inability to control off-site odors at its Route 2 location.
In response to an earlier notice of alleged violation that Moretown Landfill received in May of 2011, the landfill hired a third-party consultant to respond to odor complaints made via hotline. Since August of 2011, the consultant has responded to 180 confirmed odor complaints.
In their complaints, homeowners reported a loss of enjoyment or use of their property, as they often are unable to have company over and are even unable to open their windows during the summer.
“The facility’s odor issues cannot be dismissed as ‘typical’ landfill odor issues,” George Desch, director of the ANR’s waste management and prevention division, explained in a letter to Moretown Landfill regional operations manager Mark Harlacker, due to their “chronic nature…broad scope of impacts… [and] diversity of source.”
“The Agency appreciates that the operation of a landfill can, from time to time, result in periodic episodes of odor issues,” Desch said. “When this occurs, we expect that problem to be addressed by the facility operator so that the complaints cease. This has not been the case with Moretown Landfill.”
As a result, the agency “has determined that the facility’s design and operations do not prevent nuisance odor conditions,” Desch wrote, suggesting that the geography of the site and its proximity to residential neighborhoods cannot be overcome by any improved odor-controlling technology.
Still, the ANR has stated only its “intent” to deny Moretown Landfill’s recertification request, not its final decision, and the landfill is currently open and accepting trash as of January 9 at press time. Landfill manager Tom Badowski had put the town of Moretown on notice, as early as November of last year, that the landfill’s ability to accept trash could be drastically reduced by as much as 80 percent or more, pending the state’s actions.
At the end of the public comment period, the ANR will take 45 days to consider all the information it received and will issue its final decision on March 8, 2013.